A Year of Transformation

December 19, 2009 at 2:09 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

Well, given that it has been almost a year since I have updated this blog (its been a crazy year) I thought that it would be nice to look back at what a year it has been.

For us 2009 was a year of change and learning (along with a bit of adventure). Never a dull moment in our house, and the lack of sleep this year is proof enough!

We started off the year with some new (and old) but all amazing friends. A new tradition at New Year’s started of what was to be quite a year for us.

The first big change for Misha and I, we bought a new car. 2008 ended with a bang (literally) so after being thankful that we made it out alive and unharmed (along with our two pups) we were thrown into the world of car shopping. Needless to say the drive up to visit my parents is made much more comfortable and roomy with our new wheels. The girls love their new seats, and now travel in comfort and safety.

Our next big bit of excitement was two of our very good (and amazing) friends got married. Misha was the Man of Honor, and I was also honored to stand by Alex’s side as she and Mike were married. We are so happy for them. It has been amazing to see what was once a new relationship at our wedding blossom into what it is now.

Alex and Mike, 02.04.06 (at our wedding)

I also managed to go on a few business trips this year. I discovered snow in Chaska, Minnesota, cyclic thunderclouds in Indianapolis, Indiana, and writing techniques in Seattle, Washington. I really enjoyed experiencing some new things, but I was more than happy to get back home to Misha.

In August Misha and I went on an amazing road trip to visit two good friends (and their pup)  in Denver, Colorado. We brought our pups along with us and with camera in tow, hit the road. I am so glad that we took the scenic route, we saw some amazing parts of the country that we never even knew existed. Each turn on the trip brought something more amazing and inspiring than the last. We only took 4, 314 pictures (yay for digital). A few of the highlights included Zion National Park, Goblin Valley State Park (Utah), Route 70, Littleton, Colorado (staying with two amazing friends), Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Garden of the Gods, Mount Evans (Highest Paved Road in North America), Colorado National Monument, Arches National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park. It was great to spend time with Ben and Jenny, I am so thankful that we were able to make this trip. We had a wonderful time, as did our pups.

Misha, Mollie, and Abby, Zion National Park

Zion from the Car

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah

Mt. Evans, Colorado

Arches National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

It seems like just last week that my mom came down for a quick visit in October. We were one of the fortunate few able to attend the California Women’s Conference. This year it expanded to two days, and we were able to participate in a Day of Transformation (the new additional day of the conference) along with the conference. It was a great visit, and a great conference. My mom and I both learned quite a bit, and continue to discuss things from the conference. I continue to share with others what I can, and to use what I learned. Alas, the trip was over much too soon.

For Thanksgiving this year we were fortunate enough not only to visit my parents for an extended vacation, we were able to see some very good friends that we had not seen in too long. Emilie came down to visit us, and we visited Tom, Angela, and Alexander. It has been too long between visits, and we are already remedying that fact and letting less time fly by before we see each other again. Friends are the family that we choose for ourselves. Misha and I are truly blessed with friends that we can consider family.

This year also was the year that many new faces entered the world. The time of Bridal Showers has changed to the tune of Baby Showers. It is so fun watching these little, sleeping, snuggling babies grow into their own personalities. I’ll keep their names anonymous for privacy’s sake, but our utmost congratulations goes out to the new parents, parents again, and the older siblings who welcomed new family into this world.

2009 for us was a year of transformation. Misha and I have been brought closer in the events of this year (if that was even possible). It was the year of our 10-year high school reunion (I always thought that I would never be the person who wasn’t there, but we were out-of-town for both of ours). We have been together 7 years, married almost 4, and look forward to the future while we enjoy where we are at now. We have two healthy pups that keep us on our toes and always know when we’re about to cook. We have reconnected with old friends, made new friends, and continue to grow closer to the relationships that we have. This year certainly did have some humbling and challenging moments, but looking back it really has only made us stronger and helped us to better appreciate what we do have and be thankful for all that has happened. Misha and I are both different people than we were a year ago. Different in a good way, but this year has certainly transformed us.

We look forward to 2010 with our hearts open. Thank you for the blessings of 2009. 2010, ready or not, here we come!

The Grinenko Family


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Peppermint Cookies

December 19, 2009 at 1:54 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Again these are cookies from last year, but they were a hit! It was hard crushing the candy canes, but other than that they were a nice easy cookie.

Peppermint Chocolate Cookies
Rachael Ray

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
Two 3.5-ounce bars dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used dark chocolate chips instead)
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
2/3 cup finely crushed peppermint candy canes or candies


  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. Turn the mixer to low and gradually add the powered sugar. Once creamy, beat in the egg.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt.
  3. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture one third at a time, beating until smooth.
  4. Using parchment paper or silicone baking sheets, put the dough onto the baking sheet. Using your hands, shape the dough into a 12 inch long round log. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and roll into a smooth and even log. Seal the ends and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Reshape the cylinder and refrigerate for 30 more minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with silicone baking sheets or parchment paper.
  6. Unwrap the dough. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/3 inch rounds. Place these rounds 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets.
  7. Bake until firm, 18 to 20 minutes.
  8. Remove the cookies from the cookie sheet, and cool completely.
  9. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine two-thirds of the dark chocolate with the oil. Microwave for 30 seconds then stir until smooth. If needed, heat at 10-second intervals. Stir in the remaining chocolate until smooth.
  10. Using a spoon, spread a scant teaspoon of melted chocolate on top of each cookie. Sprinkle the peppermints on top and press in, gently. Let stand until set, about 2 to 3 hours.
  11. Package up and enjoy!

I would do these again, if I had the motivation to bake this year. They were really yummy. Just keep an eye on them in the oven, they go from done to burnt pretty easily, and it is hard to see.

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Palmier Cookies

December 19, 2009 at 1:34 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

Well, it has been a year, roundabouts, but I have really been slacking on the blogging front. I’ve had some recipes saved, ready to blog but I never quite got around to it.

These cookies are from the last holiday season. I have to say that they are one of my favorites and I make them on a whim every once in a while year-round. They are easy, cheap, taste fantastic. They just take a little planning ahead.

Cinnamon Palmiers Cookie
I Shot the Chef, though I know there are a ton of similar recipes out there


1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen
5 to 6 Tablespoons ice water
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Stir together the flour and salt in a large metal bowl.
  2. Grate the frozen butter into the flour, gently tossing to get all of the butter coated. Once all of the butter is in, add 5 Tablespoons of the ice water evenly into the flour mixture. Gently stir with a pastry blender or fork until all of the water is incorporated. If necessary, add another tablespoon of water. When a small handful of dough holds together, it is ready. Do not overwork or add too much water to the dough.
  3. Form the dough into a 5-inch square. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until firm (at least 30 minutes).
  4. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 15 by 8 inch rectangle. Brush off any excess flour and fold the dough into thirds (like a letter). Rewrap the dough and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  5. With the sort side of the dough near you, roll the dough out again into a 15 by 8 inch rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, like a letter, rewrap and chill until firm, another 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling and chilling process again.
  6. Roll out the dough again unto a 15 by 8 inch rectangle, fold the dough into thirds. With a sharp knife, half the dough crosswise. Wrap separately and chill for at least an hour.
  7. Stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle a clean work surface with some of the cinnamon sugar, and place one of the chilled doughs on top. Quickly roll out the dough into a 16 by 12 inch rectangle. If the dough gets soft, chill on a baking sheet until firm. Sprinkle the top of the dough evenly with some cinnamon sugar. Fold the two opposite long sides of the pastry so that they meet in the center. Then fold in the same sides in the same manner. Then fold one half over the other (like a book) and press gently with the rolling pin to flatten. it will form a long, rectangular log. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon sugar.
  8. Chill on a baking sheet (uncovered) until firm for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough and cinnamon sugar.
  9. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425°F with the rack in the middle. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper (I use silicone baking sheets).
  10. Cut one of the doughs crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices with a sharp knife. Arrange slices cut side down, 1 1/2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes until puffed and golden around the edges (they will puff and expand in the oven). Remove the cookies from the oven and turn them over with a spatula. If they begin to unroll gently press to reshape when they have cooled a tad. Continue baking until they are golden (3 to 5 minutes).
  11. Transfer onto a rack and cool as they are done.
  12. Once they have cooled, enjoy!

I love these cookies. They are pretty simple, and they make a ton! I never knew that they were so easy.

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