Monthly Archives: January 2015

January Wrap-Up

Jan-wrap-up-1Oh how I love January.  I actually think New Years might be my new favorite holiday.  I just love that feeling of renewal and starting again.

It’s been a quiet month here at Jen’s Favorite Cookies.  Never fear, however, I’ve been spending the time working on some behind-the-scenes projects.

My favorite recipe this month?  It’s a toss up, actually.  I loved the Hummingbird Cake.  That is some good stuff.  The Lizard couldn’t stop talking about it.  I have a feeling I’ll be making it again on his birthday.  But… that being said, I think the Oatmeal Cut Out Cookies were actually my favorite.

Coincidentally, they were the Cookie of the Month, the first one of the year!  They are just simple, crunchy, and I love that light layer of icing on top.  But more on that later.  Right now, let’s remember all the January recipes.

 

apples-1 (1 of 1) Looking Forward

I set down a few simple goals for 2015 in this post.  Goals for
blogging, yes, but mostly goals for life.  Because everyone needs
life goals.

oatmeal-cutout-cookies (1 of 1)-5 Oatmeal Cut Out Cookies

My very first Cookie of the Month!!  I’m so excited about this
new feature, and sharing some fun and awesome cookies with
you every month.  This one is crunchy, simple, and really
really delicious.

fruit-nut-granola (4 of 1) Fruit and Nut Granola

I just love granola.  It’s one of my very favorite breakfast foods.
This one is packed with nuts and dried fruits, to give you plenty
of energy for your day.

hummingbird-cake (2 of 5) Hummingbird Cake

This cake was very popular at my house!  The combination
of bananas, pineapple, and nuts made for a very flavorful and
moist cake, while the cream cheese frosting added a very
decadent finish to the whole thing!

english-muffins (2 of 3) English Muffins

Now that I’ve had them homemade, I’m not sure I can ever go
back to store bought.  These are lovely when toasted, with some
butter.  They also make a fantastic bun for a breakfast sandwich!

bakla-bread-6 Baklava Bread

My sister’s contribution for this month is this sweet bread.  It’s
got a sweet and nutty filling and a honey syrup drizzle on top.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been drooling over it for days!

And I get to announce the winners of my very first Cookie of the Month!

These winners are chose from those who made this months cookie, took a picture of it, and either e-mailed it to me, dropped it on my Facebook page, or tagged me on Instagram.  This month, there are two winners and two prizes!

Left: Angie S.  Right: Shelly S.

Left: Angie S. Right: Shelly S.

The first prize is a selection of silicone baking mats from Kitchen Executive Chef.  These mats are extra thick, high quality, non-stick, and makes clean up a breeze.  The winner of these mats is Angie S!  Congratulations Angie!

The second prize is a $25 gift card to Amazon.  This prize goes to Shelley S!  Congratulations Shelley!

Don’t miss out on the fun.  February’s Cookie of the Month will be announced on Monday February 2, 2015.  In the meantime, get loads of great cookie recipe ideas on my Pinterest board!

Baklava Bread

This easy baklava recipe combines traditional baklava with pull-apart bread.  You’ll love how easy this baklava bread recipe comes together!

bakla-bread-6

This month, my beloved sister has me drooling all over myself, and feeling, quite frankly, pea green with envy that I didn’t come up with this recipe myself.

I mean, just read on and see what I mean!  Turning it over to Em now!

*****

My husband is working this weekend so I’ve been killing time by playing this game of solitaire where you eat an entire box of Wheat Thins by yourself.

Without any kids to drive me insane, I’m left to my own devices when my husband isn’t around.  As a general rule I like to tell myself that I’m going to get some shopping done, do a little baking, clean the apartment, go to the gym, etc., etc., etc. but then I turn on the TV as “background noise” which results in my sitting on the couch all day eating crackers and binging on Netflix.

It’s okay though, as long as I line all the remotes up in a parallel line on the coffee table before my husband gets home, he doesn’t know that I didn’t clean…or I don’t know, maybe he does but chooses his battles wisely.

Baklava Bread from JensFavoriteCookies.com - pull apart bread with a sweet nutty filling and honey syrup drizzle.

That’s not the point.

The point is that this weekend, I actually DID something that I told myself I would and that was to bake…leading me to a new problem: how many calories does it burn to eat an entire loaf of this Bakla-bread I made?

Baklava Bread from JensFavoriteCookies.com - pull apart bread with a sweet nutty filling and honey syrup drizzle.Baklava Bread from JensFavoriteCookies.com - pull apart bread with a sweet nutty filling and honey syrup drizzle.

The bigger problem is that this recipe has effectively turned me into a monster.  You know how people eat with their eyes first?  Well, I sort of visually assaulted this bread before I ate it and it was really inappropriate.

Where that’s concerned though, I think most breads ask for the abuse and I’m just the kind of girl who isn’t afraid to make it uncomfortable.

Ultimately, this bread came out the victor because while I won the battle of eating the entire loaf, the bread won the war of making me want to die for having done so.  As I recovered on the couch, my husband walked in to find a messy kitchen, an apartment that smelled like heaven and nothing for him to eat.

Baklava Bread from JensFavoriteCookies.com - pull apart bread with a sweet nutty filling and honey syrup drizzle.Baklava Bread from JensFavoriteCookies.com - pull apart bread with a sweet nutty filling and honey syrup drizzle.

Adding insult to injury, I was washing my dessert bread down with wine and binge-watching Netflix.  (Sorry fellas, I’m taken!)

 

Want more?  Try some of Em’s other great creations!

cheese-bacon-bitespesto-almonds-7easy-caramel-cake-recipes

 

 

Baklava Bread
 
Prep time
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Pull-apart bread with a sweet and nutty filling, topped with honey syrup.
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Ingredients
DOUGH:
  • 3 tablespoons warm water (105-115F)
  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FILLING:
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ Cup pistachios, chopped
  • ½ Cup walnuts, chopped
  • ¼ Cup almonds, sliced
  • Zest of ¼ lemon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ Cup butter, melted
HONEY SYRUP:
  • ½ Cup honey
  • ½ Cup water
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Activate the Yeast: in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine water, yeast, and sugar. Stir gently and briefly. Let the mixture stand until foamy (about 5 minutes).
  2. Make the Dough: In a small saucepan, combine the butter and milk. Place over medium heat and cook until butter is just melted. Remove from heat and let cool to approx. 120 degrees.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 Cups of flour, the sugar and salt. Pour dry mixture into activated yeast. Add milk mixture, eggs, and vanilla. Stir together on low for about 2 minutes, then increast speed to medium and mix until everything is well incorporated (the eggs tend to hold the process up, just keep mixing, they’ll join in eventually). Add the remaining cup of flour and little at a time. After flour is incorporated, knead for about 3 minutes.
  4. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm place until dough has doubled (approx. 45 minutes). While dough is resting, prep the filling and honey syrup.
  5. Filling: In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
  6. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all the nuts, lemon zest, and salt and process until nuts are ground fine. Add the vanilla extract and process until the mixture forms large, moist clumps. Set the mixture aside.
  7. Honey Syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the honey, water, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a medium-low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture reduces by ⅓. Let syrup cool slightly then transfer to a jar or bowl to cool further.
  8. When the dough is raised, turn it out onto a floured surface, gently flatten it with your fingers. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin to approx. 20 x 12 inches. Cover dough with the melted butter, sprinkle with the sugar/cinnamon mixture, crumble the nut mixture as evenly as possible.
  9. Cut the dough vertically into six even strips, stack the strips on top of one another. Cut the stacked strips into 6 square (ish) pieces and layer them, standing upright, in a loaf pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes (until dough is puffed and fills the pan).
  10. Preheat oven to 350. Bake 30-40 minutes or until the top of the bread is deep, golden brown. Allow bread to cool in pan about 20 minutes. Drizzle honey syrup over the top and serve.

 

English Muffins

Try English breakfast muffins!  Homemade English muffins breakfast is delicious and full of flavor.

English Muffins from JensFavoriteCookies - Homemade English muffins taste so much more amazing than store bought!I have good memories of English muffins as a kid.  We used to toast them and spread butter on them for breakfast.  It never occurred to me that I could actually make them myself.

I don’t often make bread, but the lure of the sweet childhood memory of English muffins was enough to send me to the kitchen.

My first attempt was tasty, but the texture was nothing like was I was looking for.  They were too dense and tough.  I think I used too much flour.

With some adjustments to the recipe, my second attempt provided some frankly amazing results.  This is an English muffin worth dying for.

Or worth kneading and patiently waiting through rise time for, anyway.

(See related post: Pumpernickel Bagels)

English Muffins from JensFavoriteCookies - Homemade English muffins taste so much more amazing than store bought!

Pin this to your bread recipes Pinterest board!

Robb was in love, but the kids seemed a little underwhelmed by my latest creation.

(Kids never know how good they have it, do they?  I mean, homemade English muffins???  C’mon!!  It’s the stuff of dreams!)

That is, until I started cracking these muffins open and filling them with eggs, cheese, and ham or bacon.  Then, they got interested in a big hurry.  Especially my bottomless pit of a teenage son.

(Try these muffins with Apricot Pineapple Jam!)

English Muffins from JensFavoriteCookies - Homemade English muffins taste so much more amazing than store bought!

The easiest way to make these is in a cast iron skillet.  I have a 12-inch skillet, and it easily fit 8-9 muffins.  You put it on the stove and toast each side until lightly browned, then move the whole thing to the oven and bake for a few more minutes.

If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, or something that can go directly from stovetop to oven, don’t fear.  You can brown them on a griddle or regular skillet, then transfer to a baking sheet to finish them up.

Either way you do it, these English muffins will be the stuff memories are made of!

 

Want more?  Try these breakfast breads!

homemade-bagel-recipemini muffinschoc-chip-scones-4

 

English Muffins
 
Prep time
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Delicious and flavorful homemade English muffins.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 18 muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2½ teaspoons yeast
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • Cornmeal
Instructions
  1. Scald milk and butter until warm. (about 105-115F)
  2. Add butter, yeast, and sugar to milk mixture. Let sit about 5 minutes to allow yeast to bloom.
  3. Mix in flour. (I used a stand mixer for this.) This will form a soft dough, so it is easiest to use a stand mixer or bread machine to knead the dough. Knead until smooth and shiny, about 5 minutes.
  4. Place dough in a greased large bowl, cover, and let rise until double in size, about 1-2 hours.
  5. Split dough into 18-20 even pieces. Roll pieces into balls, and sit on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let rise an additional 20-30 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle a large skillet with cornmeal, and carefully place muffins in it. Cook on the stovetop over medium high heat, until bottoms are browned. Flip muffins and brown other side.
  7. Move skillet to the oven (or if skillet is not oven-safe, transfer muffins to a baking sheet) and bake at 400F for 10-12 minutes.
  8. For best results, use a fork to spit muffins, rather than a knife to cut them.

 

Hummingbird Cake

This easy hummingbird cake is made with bananas and pineapple.  It’s one of the most delicious hummingbird cake recipes you’ll find!

Hummingbird Cake from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a delicious layer cake with cream cheese frosting perfect for Easter or anytime!My friends are starting to wonder about my actual baking and food blogging skills.  Not that I blame them.

I invited them over for a night of games and prizes and snacks, and then spent the entire day sick in bed.  Of course.  It meant I couldn’t make the cake I had planned to impress them all with.

Then, to make matters worse, my so-simple-a-monkey-could-make-it dessert didn’t set up.  At all.  I ended up sending Robb to the grocery store for cupcakes at the last minute.  It was pretty humiliating, actually.

This, after I brought store-bought donuts to the last get-together.

I have GOT to find a way to redeem myself.

Hummingbird Cake from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a delicious layer cake with cream cheese frosting perfect for Easter or anytime!

Pin this to your Cake Recipes board!

On the bright side, this cake was as tasty as I imagined it to be.  Our son, The Lizard, can’t get enough of it.  He had a slice for breakfast, and he brought a friend over to impress him with the cake I made.

I think it might have worked.

If you’re wondering what it tastes like, it’s basically a banana nut cake, but with pineapple, which gives it this sweet, slightly tangy edge to it that is surprising and very tasty.  No one expects to find pineapple in their banana cake.

Hummingbird Cake from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a delicious layer cake with cream cheese frosting perfect for Easter or anytime!Hummingbird Cake from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a delicious layer cake with cream cheese frosting perfect for Easter or anytime!

I went pretty heavy on the cream cheese frosting (I ended up with a fair amount more than I needed.  Not that I’m complaining.) because cream cheese frosting is the bomb-diggety.  It might be the real reason cream cheese exists in the first place.

This recipe makes 3 layers, so it is a substantial cake.

Which is perfect if you’re hoping to eat last night’s cake leftovers for breakfast today!

 

Want more? Here are some more recipes using ripe bananas!

muffin-tin-recipeschocolate chip banana bread cookieschocolate-banana-bread-7

 Recipe from Bakerella

Hummingbird Cake
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A lightly spiced fruit and nut cake with cream cheese frosting.
Author:
Recipe type: Cake
Serves: 12 slices
Ingredients
CAKE:
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple, liquid included
  • 3 cups all purposed flour
  • 1½ cups chopped pecans
FROSTING:
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz. butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 lbs. powdered sugar (about 7½ cups)
Instructions
  1. Combine oil and sugar. Add sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and mix well.
  2. Add salt, soda, bananas and pineapple and mix well. Add flour and mix until combined. Fold in nuts.
  3. Divide batter evenly between three well greased 9-inch layer pans, and bake at 350F for 22-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let layers cool.
  4. For frosting, combine all ingredients, beating until smooth. Frost cooled layers.

 

 

Fruit and Nut Granola

This simple granola recipe is full of nuts and dried fruits!  This is the best granola recipe for energy in the morning.

Fruit and Nut Granola from JensFavoriteCookies.com - A simple and delicious breakfast!The power went out at my house this morning.  And I was reminded why being without power is one of the most annoying things to experience ever.

Holy moly, I am dependent on my electricity.  I could use my computer, but without a modem, not my internet, so what’s the point of that?  And then there’s no tv, the laptop doesn’t last long without being plugged in, and I even had to keep and eye on my cell phone battery.

I did listen to some podcasts (like this one for bloggers) but the whole time I was thinking about how I didn’t have wifi, so I was streaming and paying for all that data.

And, obviously, there’s no baking in my fancy-schmancy new electric oven, so I couldn’t even work on this cake recipe I have planned.

Talk about frustrating.

(See related post: Cinnamon Spice Granola)

Fruit and Nut Granola from JensFavoriteCookies.com - A simple and delicious breakfast!

Pin this to your Breakfast Recipes board!

I ended up going to the dog park where Monster and I wandered around alone (no one goes to the dog park in the middle of the morning in January, apparently) and nearly froze to death.

Let me tell you, I was glad there was some granola in the pantry, so I could at least have something decent to eat for breakfast.  It was that or a bag of pretzels.

This simple granola recipe is one of my favorites.  It’s chock full of nuts and dried fruits, with a touch of sweetness from honey.  It’s a great way to get a little energy for your morning.

Fruit and Nut Granola from JensFavoriteCookies.com - A simple and delicious breakfast!Fruit and Nut Granola from JensFavoriteCookies.com - A simple and delicious breakfast!

If you’ve never made homemade granola, can I urge you to try it?  It’s SO crazy easy to make, easy to customize, has very few ingredients, and homemade granola tastes ah-maaaaaz-ing.

I customized this with some of my favorite nuts, namely almonds and pecans.  Though I may have used walnuts if I hadn’t been completely out of them.  And I used dates and craisins, but you could use raisins, or those gorgeous golden raisins, or dried apricots, or tart cherries, or whatever you like.  And, I obviously threw in some coconut, because… yummmmm… coconut!

I hope the next time your power goes out, there’s some granola in your pantry too.  It almost makes a morning without Netflix bearable!

 

Want more?  Try these granola recipes!

peanut-butter-granola-bitesrecipes for homemade granolaPB Granola Bars Featured copy

 

Fruit and Nut Granola
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
A simple granola recipe with nuts and dried fruits.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 3 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup sunflowers seeds (kernels)
  • ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • dried cranberries
  • dates
Instructions
  1. Combine oats, coconut, pecans, almonds and sunflower seeds in a mixing bowl. Add oil and honey, and stir to coat.
  2. Spread evenly on a baking sheet, and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes until browned, stirring halfway through.
  3. Let cool. Add dried cranberries and dates to taste. (about ⅓ - ½ cup each)

 

Oatmeal Cut-Out Cookies

This crunchy oatmeal cookies recipe is perfect with icing!  Learn how to bake oatmeal cookies with this easy recipe.

Oatmeal Cut-Out Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.comMy Plain Oatmeal Cookies were my most popular post of 2014.  I guess people love their oatmeal cookies.  I figured I would go with a variation on a theme this year, and make a crunchy oatmeal cookies recipe with icing.

I’ve made this recipe before, but I thought it could use a sight modification or two, so I was only too happy to revisit it.

Besides being my first recipe of 2015, it was another first as well.  It was the first thing I baked in my new oven!  Woot, woot!

Yeah, my oven bit the dust a couple weeks ago.  It turns out it was some electronic part, a part that is no longer being manufactured.  The stove worked okay, though, so we ate stovetop meals through Christmas, and finally got the new equipment delivered on New Years Eve.

It was about a year ago my fridge died too.  I remember shopping for the new fridge while Robb was out of town and too busy to answer his phone.  I got a good deal with the cyber Monday sales though.

If this trend keeps up, I will expect to get a new dishwasher next holiday season.

Oatmeal Cut-Out Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com

Pin this to your Cookie Recipes board!

You guys, I’m so stoked to let you know that this is the COOKIE OF THE MONTH!

I’m asking you guys to jump in and participate in this recipe.  I want you to make this cookie, take a picture of the finished product, and send it to me! There are 4 good ways to get that photo to me:

1. Drop it on my Facebook page.  (Don’t just tag me, because Facebook is a little unreliable at delivering the message that I’ve been tagged and I may not see it.)
2. Post it on Instagram and tag or at-mention me.  My handle there is @jensfavoritecookies.
3. Post it on Twitter and at-mention me.  My Twitter handle is @JenSto2t
4. E-mail it to me at jen@jensfavoritecookies.com.

There will be prizes for a couple lucky winners each month!

Why am I doing this?  Well, I really want the feedback from you.  I want to hear and see your experience with these cookie recipes.  And I think all my readers can benefit from one another’s experience, not just from mine.  And it’s fun.

Mostly that last one.

Oatmeal Cut-Out Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com

So, on to the prize details.  Prizes will vary from month to month.  This month, there are two prizes available!

The first is from Kitchen Executive Chef, who makes my very favorite silicone mats.  These are really fantastic for baking cookies!  Nothing sticks to them, and they are easy to clean.  It makes cleaning baking sheets a total non-issue, which, for a dish-washing-hater like myself is a big deal.  They are nice a thick, high-quality mats.  Kitchen Executive Chef will deliver a two-pack in your choice of two sizes.  My favorite is the half-sheet pan size.  I use it constantly!

The second prize is a $25 gift card from Amazon.  The possibilities here are endless!  But if you need suggestions for awesome baking products, I’m happy to help.

Jan-COM-2

Winners will be announced on January 30, so get those pictures turned in to me quick!  (Winners must reside in the US.  Winners will have 48 hours to respond to notification.)

And while you are dreaming of oatmeal cookies, check out these fun recipes from my friends!

Want more?  Try these fun oatmeal cookies!

debbie-oatmeal-cream-piesoatmeal cookies from scratchchoc oat cinnamon chip cookies featured

Recipe adapted from Created By Diane

Oatmeal Cut-Out Cookies
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A crispy, cut-out oatmeal cookie with a simple icing.
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 3 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1½ cups quick oats
FOR ICING:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons mik
Instructions
  1. Cream shortening and brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
  2. Add cinnamon, baking powder, and flour, and mix until combined. Add oats and mix until combined.
  3. Working with half the dough at a time, roll dough out on a floured surface, to about ⅜-inch thickness. Cut shapes (I used a 2½ - inch circle) and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 350F for 11-14 minutes.
  5. For icing: place ingredients in a small bowl, and stir to combine. The consistency can be adjusted by adding more milk or more powdered sugar.
  6. Lightly frost cooled cookies.

 

Looking Forward to 2015

apples-1 (1 of 1)

The older I get, the faster these new years seem to creep up on me.

And now I sound like my grandmother.  Poetic justice strikes again.

 

The highlights from 2014 are all here, but today I want to talk about 2015.  The hope, the promise, the butt-slimming goals.

If I was in the uber-organized and beautiful Pinterest-perfect life mode, as admittedly unrealistic as that is, I would have made this list before the year was over, so I could be ready to jump in with both feet on January 1.  But here it is the 3rd, and I am just now thinking about it.  Please tell some of you are as scattered as I?

That’s actually not entirely true.  I did have the forethought to install two new apps on my phone.  The first, called “Expensify,” to help me track my business expenses and mileage.  I haven’t used it yet, since I spent the last two days power watching the final two seasons of “Dexter” with Robb, while the pair of us downed disgusting amounts of lemon ginger tea, cold medication, and leftover holiday candy.  The second app is called “Goal Tracker” because I do have the best of intentions and I want to hold myself accountable.

 

And speaking of being accountable, I’m putting these goals down for the whole world to see.  (The whole world?  Inflated sense of self, perhaps?)  I’m hoping these goals will help me deal with some of the challenges I know are coming up this year.  Challenges like my BFF and next door neighbor moving 15 minutes away.  I know this sounds like a small deal, but who will I borrow eggs from?  Who will I go to when my oven dies and I am left holding an unbaked casserole?  (This literally happened just a couple weeks ago.)  Who will pick up my mail when I (hypothetically) go out of town?  I also have the challenge of my oldest son graduating high school this year.  Again, I never would have thought of this as a challenge, but here I am, freaking out about it like I have nothing else in my life.

 

So, this year’s goals.

  • Journal more.  And take more pictures of family.  I looked through my photos from 2014, and they were practically all of food.  #foodbloggerproblems  You would think I didn’t love my kids at all, looking through my photo collection.  Having them get so close to adulthood has made me panicked to do better at recording our family life.

 

  • Family time.  My kids don’t know this yet, but I’m going to be requiring 1 hour of their time on Sundays this year.  One precious hour a week for us to spend together, no distractions, talking about life, the universe, God, and love.  And there might be pancakes.  Maybe I’ll even force them to do Sunday selfies.

 

  • I want to see what I can make myself do.  This sounds like a weird goal, I know, but I really want to push the limits and make myself stronger.  I have become, in many ways, such a soft, weak, pathetic procrastinator.  Can I force myself to look at my budget and bank account every day?  Can I push myself to get my taxes done on time, maybe even early this year?  Can I make myself stay ahead of schedule on blog posts?  How many days in a row can I motivate myself to exercise?

 

  • And speaking of exercise… that one is already in the goal tracker.  It’s not a list of resolutions without an eat-right-and-exercise component, right?  We have this big family vacation coming up this summer, so it makes an excellent source of motivation, with a built in time frame.

 

Of course, all of this is just another way to say that I need to focus on the things that matter.  Which means I need to know and remember what those things are.  Have you ever seen that object lesson, where they put a bunch of sand in a jar, then small pebbles, then bigger rocks?  The big rocks don’t fit because the jar is already full of sand and pebbles.  But, when you put the big rocks in first, then the pebbles and sand, there is room for everything, because the sand will just fill in around the rocks.  That’s the kind of life I want.  The kind where the big stuff is firmly in place, and the little stuff can find it’s own way into my life.

And that’s my wish for you, too.  A rich, full life, where all the important stuff is right.

Happy New Year, my friends.

Love, Jen