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Salted Caramel Cashew Latte | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise

Good friends, I’ve decided, are like salted caramel cashew lattes: They’re sweet, unique, nice to hang out with and give you that added pick-me-up you need to get through the day. And you want to spend as much time with them as possible.

This past week has been so good for my soul. Between a few social gatherings with girlfriends, my husband having the week off of work and these lattes coming into existence, it’s been a bright spot in an otherwise dreary winter (but we’re not talking about that, remember?). It’s just been one of those times when I am extra grateful for the good in my life, you know? That I have my health, a supportive family, sweet friends and a roof over my head. I never want to take these things for granted.

That especially goes for my health. Because I am the worst at handling even the slightest inkling of illness, I make every effort to achieve balance in my diet so I can stay healthy and, therefore, be my best self in all other avenues of my life. You know hangry? Oh, do I know hangry. I also know under-caffeinated, which is equally unpretty, and so I do my best to avoid both at all times.

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Caramelized Shallot and Smoked Gruyere Gougeres | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise

I refuse to talk about the weather. How winter’s chill has officially cut to the bone, how I can wear a full down jacket with a furry hood, a scarf that wraps around my neck 100 times, extra-thick mittens, fleece-lined leggings, leg warmers and snow boots and STILL shiver me timbers, how all I want to do these days is sit wrapped in a blanket by the fireplace with an oversized mug of hot cocoa with marshmallows on top cupped in my hands and watch the snow fall against the gray sky and reminisce about those dreamy days back in July when I, if I can even believe it, wore flip flops outdoors and my teeth didn’t chatter incessantly. The wonder!

But like I said, I refuse to talk about it. So let’s talk about these tasty caramelized shallot and smoked Gruyere gougeres — a.k.a. perfect little puffy bites of cheesy, caramelized deliciousness — instead.

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French Toast Bagels | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise

When I was a youth, I hated breakfast. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t tasted the glorious taste of coffee yet (that was at age 15 and I haven’t gone a single day since without it, save a few weeks early in my pregnancy when I couldn’t stomach it but I’d rather not talk about those dark, caffeine-free days), or because I never knew the magic that is a soft scramble or over-easy egg, or because I had one too many run-ins with those chewy chocolate chip granola bars that, at the time, I sort of liked but now I can’t really stand because I’m a food blogger/food snob and I need me only homemade granola bars, thankyouverymuch.

Now that I’m old and wise (er, older and wiser), breakfast has become my favorite meal of the day. I crave it before I go to bed at night. I dream of it in my sleep. I plan my breakfasts days in advance with great zeal — not even kidding. And that’s why I was extra-excited about my breakfast plans this week: Because this week, every breakfast is a French toast bagel. (!!!)

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Baked Chickpea Patties with Yogurt Sauce & Sweet Potato Oven Fries + Nine Months of Motherhood {A Baby Update} #babyledweaning #BLW

Well if that’s not the longest blog post title…

I can’t believe I’m sitting here writing about my experience as a mom for nine whole months. Some days feel like they never end, but overall, cliche as it may sound, the time has flown by. I swear it was just a few days ago when I was watching “Friday Night Lights” re-runs on my computer at 3 a.m. with a newborn who just would.not.go.back.to.sleep; just yesterday morning when I was sharing my favorites in baby gear and apps with you guys and snuggling a sweet six-month-old; just a blink of an eye ago when I saw my baby crawl for the first time.

And now, here we are, nine months into this adventure and I’m telling you about the solid foods my little girl is eating all on her own. Sniffle. (And also the fact that we are SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT, glory glory hallelujah.)

Nine Months of Motherhood {A Baby Update} | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise

Truthfully, though, it’s been so fun to see Avery grow and develop into the lovely little lady she is today. She’s still spunky and headstrong as ever — in fact, we are starting to enjoy the very early stages of protests and temper tantrums when we take her away from things that are, you know, bad for her and dangerous — but she’s also incredibly sweet, gentle, cuddly and hilarious. The girl knows how to make me laugh like no one else with her funny faces, screeches and giggles. And yes, she still loves pulling giant tufts of hair from our poor cat.

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Strawberry-Covered Dark Chocolate Truffles | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise #GalentinesDay

Remember that cheat day?

THEEEEEEESE.

To be fair, though, it’s Galentine’s Day. The day when a gaggle of gals get together (or in this case, a gaggle of bloggers get together on the WWW) and share waffles/treats/stories of love and truth and wisdom and happiness. And strawberry covered dark chocolate truffles. So I had a very good excuse for eating all the truffles. I mean, TWO TRUFFLES. OK, fine. I ate three truffles.

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14+ Easy Sweets for Valentine's Day | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise

So I did something really dumb.

The week before Valentine’s Day, the day of love and of chocolate and of love of chocolate, I decided to cut as much sugar from my diet as possible. That means no refined or added sugars, and therefore no dessert of the chocolate/cake/cookie variety. I just felt like I’d had one too many brownies (I know, is that even a thing?) and I needed to press the reset button on my sugar-loving life.

But then… Valentine’s Day. And all the red velvet and the chocolate and the drippy ganache and the fudge and the ugh. I can barely deal. I just want a cookie to get over my sadness of not having a cookie!

Anyway, enough boo-hooing from me. Instead, let’s look at all the easy-peasy desserts you can make (and eat!) with your sweetie this Valentine’s Day that I’ve collected from the GVD archives, as well as a few from other bloggers on le world wide web. Let’s take a stroll down droolworthy lane, shall we?

Lemon Ginger Panna Cotta Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce | girlversusdough.com @stephmwise

Cheesecake. Yes, cheesecake is easy — no, THIS panna cotta cheesecake is easy. And it’s flavored with lemon and ginger and topped with a blueberry sauce and love.

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