Thoughts on 2016

4:17 PM

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I'm sad that Christmas is over, but I must say that it feels good to be free from the obligation to listen to Christmas music and drink only out of Christmas mugs. It's also exciting to look ahead to 2016 and see what's to come. For me, it's going to be a year full of scary and exciting change, namely, leaving high school and going to college. The life I've lived for 17 (almost 18) years is about to change completely. Just the thought that I have absolutely no clue where I'm going to be this time next year is crazy!

Holiday Linzer Cookies

10:40 AM

Merry Christmas Eve! I'm cutting it close by posting these holiday cookies the day before Christmas! But in case you're still in need of a traditional Christmas cookie recipe (or just want to keep celebrating Christmas afterward), I've got you covered. I've made these cookies twice this season, testing out different recipes. And I believe my search has been successful. I decided on this one.

So what are linzer cookies? They are traditional Christmas cookies that originated in Linz, Austria. The cookies are made with a nut flour, then sandwiched with jelly or preserves and dusted with powdered sugar. The small cut-out in the center is traditionally a circle, but other shapes, such as stars and hearts, have also become popular. (Side note: The hearts would be so cute for Valentine's Day, especially with red jam showing through!) If you've heard of the linzer torte, it basically the same recipe, but adapted for cookies.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

2:16 PM

So... I know I usually only post on Sundays, but I realized that I had planned out all these Christmas posts and didn't have enough Sundays left to share them all! So hello on a Tuesday! Hope you're enjoying the holidays as much as I have been. 

I've especially been loving all the holiday baking. I've made these gingerbread cupcakes twice already! They turned out so delicious! I was inspired to bake them after watching Zoella's video (who, by the way, is posting a new Christmas video EVERY DAY in the run-up to Christmas). But I wound up using this recipe instead because Zoella's recipe used grams (as they do in England) and I was unable to convert it exactly into cup measurements. 

DIY Christmas Pillowcase

5:36 PM

Phew! Finals are over! I'm officially halfway through my senior year! I honestly can't believe I'm a senior still. The days are long but the years are short. Never have truer words been spoken. 

Anyway, Christmas is almost here! I'm so excited to spend the next two weeks of Christmas break doing all of my favorite things: visiting family, baking cookies, reading by the fire... And sewing Christmas pillowcases!

This pillow came about through improvisation... I was playing around with some fabric and lace that my grandma gave to me, and I actually like how it turned out! So I decided to share how to make it here. I know the holidays are busy, but this pattern is really flexible and works just fine for nonseasonal pillowcases as well.

Christmas Essentials

11:39 AM

Only 12 days 'til Christmas! In celebration of the season, I wanted to share with you nine Christmas essentials that I enjoy every holiday season!

candle with a wooden wick - I love these because they smell so good and they crackle like a mini fire! This one is from Target.

vanilla bean noel lotion - What is there to say? It just smells amazing. I use it year-round.

Let It Snow - It's kind of become a traditional of mine to read this every year during December. This year, I was really excited, so I started it a bit too early and already finished it. Oops.

hot chocolate on a stick - This makes the best hot chocolate! It's basically a cube of chocolate on a stick that you swirl around in warm milk. Yum! You can find this one at Trader Joe's or save some money and make it yourself.

twisted peppermint lotion - I have had this lotion for a few years now. It sits on my dresser all year, but I don't let myself use it until after Thanksgiving. When my hands smell like twisted peppermint, you know it's Christmas time.

peppermint hot chocolate - 'Tis the season for hot chocolate and everything peppermint. This particular peppermint hot chocolate is from Trader Joe's. Drink it with a candy cane for even more peppermint flavor!

candy cane green tea - This was the first tea I ever liked. I call it "level one" tea. So even if you're not a tea drinker, give it a go! And it's only at Trader Joe's during the holiday season, so stock up! (I buy about 5-6 boxes in December so I can enjoy it all year round!)

fuzzy socks - Fuzzy socks are a must. They also make great gifts, because who doesn't want another pair of fuzzy socks?

linzer cookie cutter set - I've been having so much fun making linzer cookies with these! Find them at World Market.

I hope you enjoyed this quick round-up of Christmas essentials! Happy Holidays! 

Orange Pecan Snowball Cookies

9:57 AM

Happy Holidays! I've been busy getting into the holiday spirit -- with blankets, cozy fires, candles, hot chocolate, and three local tree lightings! Suffice it to say, I love the holidays. And to be perfectly honest, the anticipation is like 75% of the fun! Another part of the holidays I love is baking holiday cookies. To kick it off, I made these simple orange pecan snowball cookies. I added the orange because, well, who doesn't want a little hint of orange in their cookies? You can substitute walnuts for the pecans if you'd like. These cookies are pretty flexible. They're so great for the holidays because they look festive and they taste festive -- the crunch of pecans and the sweetness of orange. Plus, the moment you sprinkle the powdered sugar on top, this dessert turns into a winter wonderland! Pile them up like a stack of snowballs! If you're taking them to a party or holiday cookie exchange, I think they'd also look really cute in mini cupcake liners, then arranged in a good ol' holiday cookie tin. And yes, I just used the word 'holiday' eight times in that paragraph. (I'm excited.)