Sunday, December 29, 2013

Twelve Days Of Christmas

It feels like I blinked and Christmas was over as quickly as Santa can throw back cookies; like I'd just found the radio station playing non-stop Christmas carols when people were already starting to return gifts that didn't fit or weren't to their taste. I never realized how much that extra week in between Thanksgiving and Christmas actually makes.

Every year, we all sing the Christmas song "The Twelve Days of Christmas." You know, the partridge in a pear tree, those two turtle doves or all those golden rings. You probably sing the song leading up to Christmas each year but how many of you knew that the twelve days of Christmas are the days following this joyous holiday?

Although my bank account isn't too pleased with all of my recent Christmas gift shopping, that doesn't mean that I can't keep the Christmas spirit alive for a few extra days. There's more to this time of year than just buying people presents. 

To carry on the remaining days of the season, I plan on doing little things to keep spreading the cheer.  Why not, right? To name a few, I will be:

  • Writing thank you notes to those who were so generous to me this holiday.
  • Having extra patience around those who usually try my patience quickly.
  • Leaving an extra couple of dollars in a tip when I go out to eat.
  • Calling my grandmother a bit more often just to check in and say hi. 
  • Holding the door for the person behind me.
  • Giving someone in need on the street a helping hand (or dollar).
  • Oh, and listening to Christmas carols a little longer than I should be...

I realize that might not be the most exciting or entertaining list but I think they're all attainable and necessary - sometimes less really is more. What's on your list?

Hope everyone has a very merry twelve days of Christmas and that you keep your spirit (and decorations!) up through January 5th!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Kid At Heart: Merry Christmas!

Just a short post to wish you all a very merry Christmas! It's okay to be a kid today. I know I sure am - why not? Thanks to my parents, who let me be, and keep the Christmas spirit alive in every way. I always look forward to the Santa gift tags that my mom still writes out with her left hand. 

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and can enjoy time off with loved ones!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Since I don't want to give away what I'm getting for my family and boyfriend for Christmas, I figured I'd make a list of gift ideas for twenty-something year old females. Really I'm just doing all those of you reading this who I might buy something for a favor...I swear I'm not just dropping hints ;-).

For me, this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has been flying by and I've been stressed out just trying to think of ideas let alone finding the time to do the actual shopping & spending. To help, here are some ideas:

Cape Clasp Bracelet: Growing up on Cape Cod I'm automatically drawn to nautical jewelry & gifts. This bracelet is simple & can be paired with other casual bracelets or a watch. The best part: 15% of profits are donated to the Cape Cod National Seashore to support the conservation of local beaches so you don't have to feel guilty about your purchase from Cape Clasp for $29.99!

Apron: At twenty-something, it's time we all started learning how to cook something other than macaroni and cheese and frozen pizza. At this point, I will say that I've mastered a few recipes - see here for some of these delicious meals - but the one thing I'm always concerned about is splashing sauce or grease or some other splash-able food onto my clothes. An apron, or better yet a monogrammed apron, is a great Christmas gift and Williams-Sonoma has plenty to choose from starting at $29.95.

Scarf & Gloves: December is the perfect time to stock up on some last minute gear to bundle up for the remainder of winter. A chunky knit infinity scarf and fingerless gloves are necessities during the winter months in Boston and I've been extra good this year in hopes that Santa will deliver these. The cowl neck scarf is perfect so you don't have to worry about it coming unwrapped around your neck and the fingerless gloves allow you to check your phone unhindered. Gap has a number of options ranging from $19.95 to $39.95 to help keep you warm this season.

DIY manicure set: If you're on a budget, try putting together a DIY manicure set with all of the essentials. First, fill the bottom of a mason jar with cotton balls - it gives the Christmasy effect since it looks like snow and serves a practical purpose since that's what the person can use to remove nail polish. Next, add in some emery boards, nail polish, nail polish remover and hand lotion. It's a great alternative to a mani/pedi gift card.

Hope these ideas help or at least get you started as Christmas quickly approaches and last minute gifts need to be purchased. You better start checking those naughty and nice lists!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sweet & Salty: Peanut Butter Pretzel Treats

Every year, my family and I deliver an assortment of cookies to friends and neighbors on Christmas Eve. It has become a tradition and something that both the givers (my family) and the recipients always look forward to. Admittedly, I'm more of a cook than a baker so my contribution will be these delicious, sweet and salty peanut butter & pretzel treats that don't involve any baking. Since I can't deliver the actual treats to you, I thought I'd do the next best thing & deliver the recipe!

You will need:

1 Cup Peanut Butter
3/4 Cup Confectioners Sugar
3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Bag of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips (for the sake of Christmas I decided to use some white chocolate chips with red & white food coloring as well)

To start, melt the butter in the microwave and then mix it with the cup of peanut butter in a large mixing bowl. Next, combine the peanut butter with the confectioners sugar & brown sugar. Stir the ingredients together until the consistency is dry enough to roll the mixture into little balls. You may have to add a little extra of each sugar.

Portion out about a tsp of the peanut butter mixture onto individual pretzels and make a sandwich using a second pretzel. Stick them in the freezer for about 30 minutes so they can harden up and be easily dipped in the melted chocolate.

Next, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, heating them in 20 second intervals. Stir them frequently to make sure that it doesn't burn. After a total of 45-60 seconds the chocolate should be nice and smooth. Dip each sandwich in the chocolate so half is covered. As a warning, I found that the white chocolate wasn't as easy to dip in once I added the food coloring. Although just as delicious, the semi-sweet chocolate came out a bit smoother looking once dipped.

Place each onto wax paper so they don't stick to the tray and let the chocolate harden in the fridge. Store in the fridge until they're ready to be served or gifted!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

DIY: Wall Art

This weekend I was feeling inspired to add some art to my dreary, beige bedroom walls. On a budget and inspired by Pinterest, I decided to create the art myself and I took advantage of some A.C. Moore coupons to keep it cheap.

My goal was to use canvas, card stock and glue to make something glittery and pretty to hang over my dresser. The curtains and accent pillows on my bed are a pale teal color and I recently spray painted a number of trinkets in my room gold so I decided to make those colors my focus.

What you will need:

- (At least) 1 canvas

- Several pieces of card stock in colors of your choice (I recommend including metallic & glitter sheets to give it texture)

- A 1 inch round hole punch

- Spray adhesive

Use the hole punch to cut out lots of dots from each colored/patterned piece of card stock. I needed less of the card stock than I thought I would to fill my 12x12. I used four different kinds of paper and probably used about 50 dots of each. It was a great mindless project while catching up on TV shows.

Next, arrange each of the dots on the canvas. I chose to overlap some and spaced them out haphazardly so that each of the different colored and textured dots were evenly mixed across the canvas.

Once I was done laying out the dots, I used the spray adhesive to secure them to the canvas. In hindsight, it would probably have worked better to spray the canvas BEFORE laying out the dots but I knew I'd be too neurotic and rearrange the dots before I was ready for them to stick forever.

Spraying after worked just fine and I layered on some Mod Podge as a finishing touch. Make sure to wait for the spray adhesive to dry before applying the Mod Podge that way you don't get any air bubbles!

Now all I need to do is get something to hang the canvas on the wall with! I plan on making a couple of these so that I can arrange several on the wall together so the hanging will have to wait for another day.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Recipe: Chicken Fajitas & Guacamole

Whenever I can't decide what to make for dinner, my go to is always Mexican food. For me, it's simple and difficult to screw up. One of my favorites is chicken fajitas. I've made it with a few different types of seasoning so below is just the one that I remembered to take pictures of.

What you will need for the fajitas (keep in mind I'm cooking for one): 

1 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 of an onion
1/2 of an orange pepper and 1/2 of a yellow pepper (I prefer these over red and green peppers)
2 chicken breast tenderloins
1/3 of a package of Ortega fajita or taco seasoning
2 iceberg lettuce leaves

First, rinse the onion & peppers and slice into thin strips. Rinse the chicken too, and trim any fatty bits. I tend to thoroughly pick apart chicken since it's not very appealing raw.

Next, saute the onion & peppers in a skillet with a tbsp of olive oil. These will take longer to cook than the thin chicken so make sure to cook them for a few minutes before adding in the chicken. Cook the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side and pull apart once it's cooked through. The onions should be translucent & the chicken no longer pink!

Add in about 1/3 of the seasoning packet along with some warm water. Stir everything together so the veggies and chicken are coated in seasoning. Heat through.

While the chicken and veggies are cooking for the last minute, wash two lettuce leaves to use as the "shell." And since I love avocados...guacamole is an absolute must. Cut an avocado in half and scoop it into the bowl sans the pit. Add in a tbsp of sour cream and a tbsp or two of salsa and mix together.

Scoop the chicken, onions and ppers into the lettuce shells, top with guacamole and cheese and enjoy! Let me know what you think!