Friday, November 30, 2012

Collecting cookies

Mhhmmm.... it's COOKIE TIME!!!

Tomorrow is the first day of December, and I'm already getting ready for the 25 day countdown to Christmas. I would like to, as many other bloggers do around this time, make a list of some of my favorite cookies for the holiday season. Would you join me in creative cookie collecting?

If you have any recipes you want me to try to adapt to be gluten-free, just send me a link to the recipe, and I'll turn on the oven, and get my apron! I'd love to help anyone have a happy Christmas in the food department. (Well...we'll see about that!)

Firstly, I made these Tahini cookies, and they were INCREDIBLE. They were the best warm, out of the oven. Flavor? Hearty, deep, complex. Yum. If I could, I would add some butterscotch chips to these-- delicious! (Butterscotch has milk in it though...sad)

You can find the recipe here: Tahini Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I used gluten-free certified oats, and Marks&Spencer's gluten-free flour blend. I also reduced the brown sugar to 1/2 cup, and I think I would use even just a little bit less next time.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving festivities

One of the best parts of having Thanksgiving with our JV family, is that everyone brings something to add to the table. The table of food, that is. It's so nice to not have a stressful day trying to get a turkey made, baking and cooking up a storm, and getting the kitchen all messy. Well, we actually did get the kitchen messy, but not as much as we would if we were making the whole meal!


This year, I made a gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie, and bacon-wrapped stuffed dates. Both things were really easy, and tasted amazing. If you're not sick of food after Thanksgiving, I'd definitely recommend trying these recipes in the near future! Maybe keep them in stock for your Christmas celebrations?

And a couple more pictures to capture the happy day...

Imported. :)

So sad that this is my last JV Thanksgiving for a while, but I am so blessed to have been apart of this holiday with them for the last 18 years of my life! What a privilege. Thanking God for family, food, and fellowship.

Friday, November 23, 2012

First Turkey Trot

I participated in my first ever 5K Turkey Trot race on Thanksgiving! This year was the first annual Josiah Venture Turkey Trot, and it was such a great start to a new tradition.

Since Thanksgiving isn't a holiday in Czech, we don't ever get the opportunity to take part in a Thanksgiving race. But thanks to JV, this year, we did!

In Hayley's words...the outcome of the race was: "We were last, but we had a blast!".

I promise, we did run. Just not the whole time. Girls need to have a little fun too, right? I mean, it's not like we were going to win anyway. *smile*

And the race begins!

The Stephens greeted us at the half-way point! What could make us happier than Cece's smile?!

And then we got distracted...
(*Thanks Hannah for taking this one!)

...But we finished!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

This weekend

This weekend, my parents were gone.Thankfully though, my dear friend Lucy came to stay with me. I am not at all the type of person that likes to have a house to myself! (Creaky sounds???)

What to do when two friends (+ my dog!) have a free weekend together?

...Attend a ball... (A sluskolona, to be exact! My friend Terka invited us to her final ball after months of dance lessons)

...Drink tea. Lots of it...

...Invite Kristi over...

 ...Go for a walk...


My parents will be home tonight. I'm thankful that a weekend that could have been really lonely and quiet ended up being so sweet. I'm thankful for friends.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Last night, I was officially knighted into the graduating class.Yes, knighted...with a real sword.

To help you feel the epic-ness of the evening, you need to listen to this song while reading the rest of this post. It's the song we walked out to for the pinning and knighting. 

It's a tradition in Czech to have a "graduation ceremony/party" before you actually graduate. Stuzkovak doesn't signify that you have finished high-school, but rather that you are entering into the time of Maturita (our final exams in May), and are officially considered the graduating class. It is one of those traditions that I am very thankful for, because I feel it is so celebratory and gives us meaning for our senior year.

I was so excited for my stuzkovak. Our class planned it for months. We invited our families, our friends, and our teachers. We ordered special sashes and ribbons for this day. We practiced the waltz for our entrance, and organized the whole program for the evening.

And it came together. Last night was the night. 

It was magical.

We held the event at a golf course, where we got a great deal for renting their restaurant/ball room. Me and my lovely friends Hayley and Magda spent the afternoon getting ready together. The guys in our class were the DJ's, and the girls baked goodies. Mr. Till, our homeroom teacher, gave a wonderful speech. The director of our school welcomed us into the graduating class. Everything was just perfect. 

Mr. Till knighted us, and pinned special ribbons on bows we had on our wrists. The director gave us our sashes. The Piano Guys played on the speakers in the background-- Beethoven's 5 Secrets, A Thousand years and other epic songs. So here we are...


I can't thank my parents enough for helping me get to this point. I couldn't have done it without the constant support, love, and prayers! And thank you God for being there every step of the way with me through Czech school! I know You'll be there with me in these next months of studying as well!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I have been baking, I promise. The problem is though, that there are legal rights to watch out for when reposting recipes, and I'm not good enough yet to create my own! I'm still learning, and hopefully improving, though there are definitely mishaps here and there. (Majorly burned some cookies not long ago! It was kind of funny actually...)

To keep things simple, here are some recipes I've collected for oatmeal cookies. I am constantly trying new recipes, and can't say I have one that is my absolute favorite. I experiment. I wish I could even tell you which recipe I used to make these cookies (below), but if I remember right, I combined two recipes, and don't know what exactly it was I put in. Maybe I should take a video while I bake to see what actually goes in those oatmeal cookies! Or you'll just have to come over some day and try them for yourself, and my improvised recipes will stay secret (even to me!).

Here are a few gluten-free recipes to inspire you:

Peanut butter chocolate oatmeal cookies
"Starbucks" oatmeal cookies
Oatmeal cookies (vegan)
Vanilla oatmeal almond cookies
Oatmeal-almond flour cookies
Oatmeal maple almond cookies
Bakery style oatmeal cookies
Oatmeal pecan cookies (this one looks really good!!)

Those should keep you busy over the weekend! Just kidding...have fun!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

From the cold steps

We've been having internet problems lately...yes, again. For whatever reason the internet router works in the apartment/garage, but not in our house (at least on my's off an on on other devices). So guess where I am right at this moment? Sitting in our dark garage, on the steps. Yes.

You don't realize how much you use internet until it's gone. Really! In today's world, we use it for just about everything: weather, school, communication, news, entertainment etc.! As I sit on the cold stone steps, I am not taking internet for granted. Otherwise....

This pretty much sums up life right now:

There's a lot going on, and it's busy busy, but it's so beautiful too! Literally...the dark clouds crawling over the mountains, and hanging over our little town are enchanting. I'm starting to feel nostalgic about this place. I'm thankful I still have many months in Czech!