Saturday, December 20, 2014

Printable Christmas Tags

Today I am sharing with you some FREE downloadable, Christmas tags. 
Am I the only one still obsessing over black and white? I would have loved to have added a few B&W items to my holiday decorations but since we're moving on Christmas eve, I was unable to buy any new Christmas decor...according to my husband.
And so with that, I am living vicariously through these tags, dreaming of what my place would have looked like if I could have fully decorated this year. 
Oh well, maybe next time! 
Happy Saturday!

Click the link below to print out your own tags for your presents under the tree.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Cookie Series #5: Gingerbread House

Oh man. 
Have you ever over estimated your ability to do something, and then just laugh hysterically when you fail at it?
 That is exactly what happened to me when I made our gingerbread house this year.
 I made my first, from scratch, gingerbread house last year and I remember being surprised at just how easy it was.
 Sure, it was a bit time consuming, but it wasn't hard and I really enjoyed doing it. I kept that in mind, and I set out to do the same thing this year. 
I made the mistake of not saving the recipe I used last time and couldn't find it anywhere, 
I checked out so many different recipes before I settled on one. 
I finally found "the one"and I went with this Food Network recipe. 
I then used a template I found on Martha Stewart. 
After I had cut out the walls and front/back, I realized the template did not provide the roof. 
All it said was measure out 2 pieces that were 6.5in x 7.5 in. 
Well, I totally underestimated my talent in eye ball measuring. 
I thought for sure I was spot on with the sizing...and then I tried to glue it onto my walls and realized I was about an inch short. Ha.
 I figured I'd just glue it on anyways and cover the huge open gap with frosting and gum drops. 
The next day when I was going to decorate it, I noticed that one side of the roof had fallen off and that it broke into 2 pieces. I then noticed the other side was bending and starting to cave in. 
At that point, I threw the whole thing in the trash.
A week later I decided to give it one more shot. I wasn't going to go down in flames.
 I whipped up another batch of gingerbread, this time using this recipe and baked it for 15 minutes at the suggested temperature. 
I then left it in a 200 degree oven for another 30 minutes to make sure it was really hard. 
And I let it dry in the oven (turned off) all night.
I used this template for the house and love the look of it. 

Evan was a pro decorator and had so much fun placing, and eating, the candies on the house. He still points to the house everyday and says, "See, it's me house!"

Now, I just need to remind myself to revert back to this post next year, so I don't give myself another big gingerbread house headache. 
Sorry for the long boring story, but I felt I needed to explain myself to make me feel better :)

A platter filled with candies. I think my favorites are the Necco waffers. I'm slightly obsessed with how (half) of the roof turned out
I know, you're jealous of my amazing icing skills. 
It's pretty, right?

Evan totally made this gingerbread house, a gingerbread house. I had high hopes of keeping it uniformed and mess free, but I love it more this way. I couldn't not let him help me on the big house. His eyes had that sparkle and honestly, it was more important that he have fun memories of decorating than for me to be a Grinch about what my expectations were of how it was supposed to look. 

(I apologize if this post sounds scattered. We are in the midst of some changes around here and to say I am beyond exhausted would be an understatement.)

To see the rest of the cookie series, head on over to here

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Dreamy White Christmas

I have been planning this party in my head since last Christmas. I knew I wanted the look to be soft and wintry. And because it was going to be a just girls Christmas party I wanted to keep it frilly and feminine. And I seriously love how it turned out.
My sweet friend, Kendra, came over early to help me set up and to pitch in a few goodies for the party. Even with a second pair of hands it still took several hours to set up. I have no idea how, but it did. But like I've said before, it's way more fun to throw a party when you have someone fun and creative doing it with you. 
I spent 3 days baking and 3 days cleaning.
And I have yet to make a meal in my kitchen since the party...we're on a break right now. 
We spent too much time together.
I really did have so much fun planning and setting up this party. I love taking an idea and turning it into real life.
I can't wait to start on Christmas 2015!

The Details:
Different flavors of hot cocoa, premixed in each cup
Hand whipped milk to mix in
Giant marshmallows on a stick
White chocolate dipped pretzels covered in sparkly sugar crystals
Powdered donuts
French macarons filled with a white chocolate ganache (recipe coming)

You better believe we all went home in a sugar induced coma. I like to think it was worth it thought. I can't wait to start planning next year's party!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas Cookie Series #4: Sugar Cookies

Growing up, I was never a fan of sugar cookies. 
I thought they were boring and the taste was, meh. 
Once I started baking I knew that I needed to conquer this cookie and I set out to find the perfect recipe. 
After trying a few recipes and being disappointed with it's outcome I decided that it wasn't the recipe and that it was me. 
But that all changed when someone passed along this recipe to me while I was in hair school. 
And I've now realized that it actually wasn't me, it was other people's recipes. 
The truth is rough sometimes.
But I am forever grateful that I now have a delicious sugar cookie recipe for my recipe box.
This cookie is so easy and it calls for just a few ingredients. I hope you all enjoy!

makes approx. 3 dozen, depending on size of cookie
8oz package of cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 sticks of salted butter, room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda  

In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla. Next, add in flour and baking soda. Mix until well combined. Cover your mixing bowl with plastic wrap and chill in your fridge for 20 minutes.
While your dough is chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

*Here is my tip for rolling the dough and transferring your cookie cutouts. Use the precut parchment baking sheets. Lay a sheet out on your working surface and lightly flour it. Dump your dough onto the parchment and roll it out there. Once you've cut your cookie shapes and peeled away the excess dough, carefully transfer the paper with your cookie cutouts onto your baking sheet.

Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden (9 min for me).
Let your cookies cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Cool them for at least an hour before attempting to decorate or you will have a big melt-y, frosting mess.

For the icing I use this recipe. It's a glace icing and it's amazing. I love the way royal icing looks but I cannot stand the taste. I find it quite disgusting actually. This icing is awesome. It hardens enough to decorate and package but is actually tasty and enjoyable to eat. So check it out, and use it. You won't regret it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Stove Top Potpourri

Today I am sharing 2 ways I make my home feel like Christmas. 
One of my favorite ways to make my home smell like Christmas is by making a simmering pot of delicious smells.
These are seriously so easy to throw together and you can do just about any flavor combination you love. 
I love the smell of apples, citrus, and cinnamon, so that's what I threw into my pot.
So in place of lighting a candle, try this instead! 
Your home will smell so yummy that your husband will actually comment on how great the house smelled as soon he walked in the door. 
True story. 


1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1 granny smith apple, sliced
1 orange, sliced
3 whole cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
4 cups of water

Dump all of your ingredients into a medium sized sauce pan, and simmer over low heat for hours. If your level starts to get low, add a few cups of water and keep simmering. My pot lasts me about 3 days before I dump it out and start with a fresh batch. Enjoy your delicious smelling home!

*never leave your pot simmering while you are out of the house. This should be common sense but sometimes things get forgotten, and I don't want to be responsible for any one's homes burning down. Thanks.
The second way I bring on the Christmas joy is by playing Christmas music all day long.
 I know people are sticklers when it comes to their taste in Christmas music. 
I know this because I am one of them. I am very picky.
 I can't help it that some arrangements are just better than others.
(I'm reading this in my mind like Gretchen Wieners)
 Here is a summarized list of my favorite songs for the season!
 Happy 1st of December!