Friday, December 19, 2014

Weekend Plans + Friday Finds

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1. Which airplane seat you choose says a lot about you
2. Boom Shakalaka
3. If you run out of Christmas bows - draw them!
4. I feel like I really need these prosecco glasses to go with my obsession of glasses.......and wine!
5. Risotto with poached egg and bacon - yes, I'll take that for breakfast tomorrow!

Enjoy your weekend loves!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Gets You Into The Holiday Spirit?

One week from today - everything we have been prepping for will be in full swing. I have to admit that I'm a little behind on all of the things that still need to get done, and have found myself getting slightly stressed. There's more cookies to bake (oh dear Lord), there's gifts to wrap...lots and lots of gifts to wrap, and there are still a few things that haven't been delivered yet so I'm stalking the mailman everyday. While all of these things are typical holiday stresses, what is it that helps you get beyond the stress and into the holiday spirit? 
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For me there are so many things, especially realizing and understanding the true "reason for the season". In addition to that - my top 5 would have to be: 

1. Picking out a tree - It just doesn't feel like Christmas until the tree is up. 

2. Red Starbucks Cups - You have to agree that you instantly get into the holiday spirit when you see those infamous red cups!

3. Knowing that the whole family be together - Usually we are only all together once, maybe twice a year. Christmas is definitely one of those times and I can't wait until Saturday gets here when my sisters arrive!

4. Great Lakes Christmas Ale - A nice cold Christmas Ale with a brown sugar rim - nothing better!

5. Watching cheesy ABC Family and Hallmark Channel Movies - I'm obsessed. Since the day after Thanksgiving I don't think my TV has been on any other channels. Even though I can predict within the first 5 minutes how the movie will end,  I get wrapped up in the cheesy love stories every time. 

So what is it that gets you into the holiday spirit? Is it a specific song? A smell? A movie? Don't tell me I'm the only one that gets sucked into these cheesy made-for-TV movies. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Wrapping Competition Practice

Every year my sisters and I compete to see who has the best Christmas wrapping. We have to submit 3 packages each and based on the criteria of craftsmanship, creativity, originality, and theme our parents judge and select a winner. I have to admit (while I personally feel they were sympathy wins) that the last 2 years I have lost. So this year I thought I would test a few new ideas before deciding what I'm going to do for this year's wrapping. I've been using my signature brown kraft paper for years and years, but this year I just may reach outside the box. I'll definitely post what I finally decide to do and I'll also share the losers (I mean my sisters) packaging for you to see why I am in fact THE QUEEN OF PACKAGING. Until then - here are a few ideas that may help with your Christmas wrapping:
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This photo shoot was no where near as eventful as the sugar cookies - but per the usual there were a few little mishaps along the way. For starters I'm not sure why I decided to wear suede boots because the ground was soaking wet and now I have a ring around the bottom of them. For any tips on cleaning suede boots - I'm all ears! Next, Addison (my darling cockapoo) decided that she wanted to be in every shot. She wanted my attention while I juggled each package trying not to let them fall. Fail! I dropped the packages and broke my absolute favorite vintage Christmas ornament. Shortly after the big fall it started to sprinkle a little so in an effort to save the packages, we called it a wrap. You see what I did there? "We called it a wrap".....I crack myself up. 
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If you have any gift wrapping ideas that you know would definitely help me get my crown back, please please please send them my way - and send them quick - only 8 days til Christmas. Eeeek!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Festive Tablescapes for Christmas Dinner

I had so much fun putting together my family's Thanksgiving tablescape (if you missed it you can view the pictures on my Instagram) that we are now starting (a little late) to research what we are going to do for our Christmas dinner table decoration.
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Below are a few ideas with one common theme attached - candles! A holiday tablescape just doesn't seem as festive without a center piece full of candles. I like how the ideas below gather pieces from outside and borrowed branches from the Christmas tree. I really really like the bottom right picture and how there is a small gift at each place setting as it adds just another personal touch to the table.
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What are you planning to do for your Christmas tablescape? Have you seen any ideas too good not to share? If so - comment below as my plans are no where near being finalized.

xoxo

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bite: All White Christmas Sugar Cookies

Happy Monday!! How was your weekend? Can you believe Christmas will be here in less than 2 weeks?? Crazy! Well this weekend I did just as I said I was going to do - I baked and baked and baked and baked. I did a little bit of last minute shopping as well, but for the most part all I did was bake cookies all weekend. Usually my "BITE" posts are on Tuesdays - but I couldn't wait to show you how the cookies turned out - so let's get started:
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Ever since the holiday season started, I've been obsessed with wanting to make my mom's famous sugar cookies (so sorry, she won't allow me to share the recipe, but here's one that's pretty close) and decorate them in all white adornments. On Saturday morning my mom and I went to the grocery store to purchase all of the ingredients, and the moment we stepped into the house, the cookie-thon began. Below is a short 15-second teaser video that my sister and I put together (if you are having a hard time viewing it on this page, simply go to my instagram --> and you can view it there):  

Once the cookies came out of the oven - that's when the real fun started:
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The final product!!!!! 
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I must admit, I'm kind of in love with how the cookies turned out, but I'm dying to know what you think. Comment below and tell me the truth!
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(You think you know - but you have no idea - this is the reality of a blogger)
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This is where all of the magic happened! I decided that I wanted to share with you some honest truths of what really happened during the making of my sugar cookies. I would love to say that things happened just as I have chronicled above, but the reality is I started making the cookies around 12:30pm on Saturday afternoon, and didn't "finish" until about 8:30pm that evening. During this entire time, I had my sister video tape all of the important moments (via my iPhone) along the way. I wanted her to capture every little thing so that I could put together and post a 15-second teaser video to Instagram. Everything was going smoothly, I made the dough, I let it chill for 2 hours, while the dough was chilling I started making a couple of my other favorite cookies (snowballs, and strawberry jam thumb prints) and everything was recorded. Finally the sugar cookie dough was chilled and it was time for me to roll it out and start the cutouts. It took a few tries to get the right footage of me rolling out the dough, but we finally got the shot we needed. By this time it's about 6:30, my back and feet are starting to ache from standing all day, but I'm excited that the sugar cookies are almost ready to go into the oven. My sister picks up the phone to record the very last portion of the video which is me placing the cutouts into the oven, and she says "uh.....what happened to the video? I think it's gone". I look up at her staring for several seconds without saying a single thing and then eventually took the phone to see for myself if the video gone and if so was there any way that I could retrieve it. After I came to realization that all the footage was gone, I put the phone down and the only thing I could say was "I'm sorry, I need a minute" and I walked out of the kitchen, plopped on the couch and had a breakdown. 6+ hours of work, videos, and pictures, all...down...the...drain. 

About 10 minutes passed - the house was quite - and let me tell you, this house is NEVER quiet. No one knew what to say to me, and to be honest, there was nothing they could say. All of my hard work was gone. Finally, my sister softly came into the living room and said "how about you make the  other batch of dough for the thumbprints since you have to redo those" (oh! I forgot to tell you - I burnt the first large batch of the family favorite thumbprints...............silence). She goes on and says, "it's basically the same ingredients, and since the dough for the sugar cookies is already made we can just pretend that you are making the sugar cookies from scratch (again), no one will know. So let's take a shot of tequila, and pour another glass of wine and finish this *%^&$^# video so we can move on". After a few seconds I realized she had a genius idea and while I was tired to the bone, and had zero will to continue on this cookie journey, I got up, took a shot, and then we "reshot" the video. So in all transparency, the first half is not the dough for sugar cookies - it's for thumbprints - and the smile at the end of the video is pretty much fake due to the fact that it took about 20 takes of me opening the oven door, trying to place the cookies on the rack without burning myself, smiling, and  trying to remember to cross my fingers. Hahaha (I laugh now)! After that, there was no way I was going to decorate the cookies that night. Instead, I ordered the fam some pizza to thank them for the hell I put them through all day, and finished the bottle of wine.
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Fast forward to Sunday evening around 6:30 (after doing some Christmas shopping during the day) I put back on the same butter and flour stained sweatshirt from the day before because I wanted it to seem like this entire hell of a process happened in one short afternoon. (Ha!) I proceeded to make the  royal icing that I talked about on Friday and it was amazing - super super easy. I finish decorating all of the cookies and finally it was time to style and take the last pictures. Frustration creeped in again because I didn't feel that any of the pictures that I took were "Pinterest worthy". You see, I kind of have this perfectionism thing that drives me and everyone literally crazy. But I feel if I'm putting my name on it, it has to be just about "perfect". So I took about 150 pictures (no exaggeration) - I had my mom looking for "Christmas cookie styling ideas" - I text my sister in New York and had her searching for ideas - but nothing was the money shot. I just wasn't in love with anything. It's now about 9:30pm and I'm sitting on the kitchen floor in front of my photography equipment thinking - I just can't throw any picture on the blog - not after all we've been through. "It has to be perfect".  Finally, I got up, took about 30 more pictures and then said "I'm done - I have to move on, one of these pictures will have to do". I turned off the lights, grabbed my phone and laptop and went upstairs and started writing this blog. Currently it's 1:28am and counting - and I'm still writing, still uploading and editing pictures. 

THAT - my loves is the life of a blogger. We see all of these beautiful pictures on social media and often wonder and compare why we can't look like that, why our food does not look like that, why my makeup never looks like that, why my outfits never seem to fit like that, how come I can never stand in the middle of the street to take a picture and not have a taxi run me over like that.....but in reality, what we see on social media is just one "perfect picture or moment" out of a previous 180 "not perfect enough" pictures that are taken and deleted. We all fall victim to it. People want to see amazing, perfect pictures. They (we) don't want to see burnt cookies. They (we) don't want to see tears of exhaustion. They (we) don't want to hear you complain. So today.....tonight....hmmm this morning.....I'm a little delirious right now - I thought I would share a little bit of the ugly to remind you that social media is not reality. It's a made up space full of a one lucky shot out of several blurry, double-chinned, crooked smiled, move that here, fix your hair on the left side, eyes closed, deleted pictures.  So from time to time I'll be sharing my real realities just as a loving reminder that what you see takes a lot of thought, planning, dedication, time (hours, sometimes days) to create and post. And when those plans are ruined...we have breakdowns, we may even shed a tear, we take a shot, and then get back up "because I've promised my readers a daily post and I have to finish this and it has to be right" (a quote said to my mother - my parents got a real dose of blogger life this weekend, God bless them). 

With that - I hope you enjoyed this post, the cookies, and my reality. I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts - so don't be shy - comment below!

You're imperfect blogger,

Jessica