Sunday, December 30, 2012

Quick Pics

As the year comes to an end, I think that a lot of people tend to think about what they hope to do and achieve in the new year. One of the things I'd like to do is begin my journey into the career world. I'm still at the job that I've had since sophomore year of college. Although it's a really cool job and work environment, this past year I've been itching more and more to find what I'm really meant to do.

[Chris doodling at our favorite coffee shop.]
I've been out of college for almost two years now, and I have finally started taking the very beginning steps towards going to grad school. I got my degree in psychology (it's weird saying I have a "degree" in something), but during my internship my senior year I realized that it might not really be for me. I, Sara, am an introvert and I feel that dealing with people in that capacity would be absolutely emotionally and mentally draining. I would probably get burnout very quickly. Ever since I was in high school, I've wanted to work at a library. I love the atmosphere of the library and I love to read. It wasn't until a year or so ago that I realized that this is what I should pursue! So...I've decided that I'm going to go for my master's in library science. I still get to help people in the community, but it's in more of a less urgent sort of way.

[Chris and I in our ugly Christmas sweaters]

[Chris's kitty all curled up!]
I'm actually kind of excited to go back to school. It'll be something new and it'll be a big step towards getting into the career I want. I've been trying to find a job at a library to get some experience and learn what it's like beforehand, but it's not really working out for me too much yet. But I keep on looking and keep on trying!

[My Christmas stocking]

[Rooibus caramel tea from Adagio Teas]
December is always filled with Christmas preparations such as picking and decorating a Christmas tree, hanging up decorations, buying presents, and baking cookies. It also requires a lot of tea to keep warm when the nights are freezing. Adagio Teas sells samples of their teas for around $2 each, so I ordered three teas to try. I got spiced apple chai and strawberry for myself and rooibus caramel for Chris. He used to love that flavor from Teavana, but it was discontinued a few years ago.

[Christmas trees!]
[Tiara giving me a kiss!]
[Christmas party make-up!]
Other than all the Christmas festivities that led up to the holiday itself, December hasn't really been that productive. I'm hoping for more adventures, travels, and more progress in moving forward in the new year. I think the winter really dampens my spirits and hinders my motivation, sometimes. It's hard to do anything except go to a coffee shop, bar, or store because it's freezing outside and there's only so much of that you can take before it gets boring. I'm really looking forward to the spring and the pure joy I'll feel the first day I don't need a winter coat anymore. My anniversary with Chris is in March and I'm hoping we'll be able to go away for a weekend together. I'll also be going to Florida again in March too! It all seems so far away now, but I guess it's not really all that long. I just got to stick it out until then!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Let the Christmas Spirit Ring

I woke up the day after Christmas feeling like I had been drugged. I think I was experiencing a cookie and food hangover and was so exhausted that everytime I opened my eyes and attempted consciousness, my brain would just refuse and go right back to sleep. This happened until almost noon. Needless to say, I had a good Christmas.

[One of my finished cookie trays]
We spend Christmas Eve with my grandparents on my mom's side. Christmas Eve has always been so special to me because when I was little, it was always sort of magical. The entire family, extended family included, would come to my grandparents' and the entire house would be so crowded that it was hard to make your way around. My grandparents' house wasn't that big, but we still managed to fit around 40+ people at the dinner table. My grandpa would make fried dough balls from scratch, along with lots of pasta and fish. And there were always tons of cookies for dessert.

Dress: ASOS//Tights: Betsey Johnson//Shoes: Payless

I think what was most magical about Christmas Eve at my grandparents' was that one of my uncles would call and pretend he was Santa Claus. Each of my cousins and I would get to talk on the phone with him and tell him what we wanted. All of us kids would also gather around the window after being told that someone thought they just saw Rudolph's nose flashing in the sky. My cousins and I used to also sneak into my grandparents' bedroom where everyone stashed their presents to see which ones were for us. I have so many amazing Christmas Eve memories thanks to my grandparents, and all of them are warm and happy. Although my grandparents now live in an apartment and we only have close family over now, Christmas Eve is still a special evening for me and I'm always excited to spend it with them.

On Christmas Day we go to my uncle's on my dad's side. Christmas Day dinner is sort of like a second Thanksgiving, only more awesome. Turkey, roast beef, corn, stuffing, lasagna, and the best mashed potatoes I may have ever had. No, seriously. I think I may have overdosed on these potatoes. I fell into a coma and lost all concept of time and space because of these potatoes. And just when you think you can't handle any more food, the Italian pastries, cookies, and cakes come out and somehow you manage to shovel all that down on top of everything else. Then you're really in trouble.

[In the midst of my coma]
[My uncle's dog]
[Chris made a new friend with her]
After getting home from dinner, Chris and I were finally able to exchange our presents. He got me a gorgeous opal ring that I just can't stop staring at. It's a little big, so I need to get it resized. I just don't want to have to part with it, though! He also got me two blocks of Hickory Farms cheddar cheese that I couldn't stop talking about after trying some at the mall one day. It's definitely the best cheese I've ever had. I think I like cheese a little too much, sometimes... I got him a pocket watch that I picked out from a neat little shop on Etsy, along with a messenger bag for his art supplies, a new flannel, and a practice mute for his trumpet! After exchanging presents, we went to the movies with some friends to see Quentin Tarantino's new movie, Django. It was so good. I highly recommend it.

[I was surprised to find out later that night that it was white gold! I thought it was silver!]

It's always a little disappointing when Christmas rushes by and you have to go back to reality. Like when you turn on your car the next day and realize the radio stations are done playing Christmas music. But there's still all the excitement of your new toys! I finally got my Canon T3i. These pictures were all taken with it (except the few Instagram shots)...and I even shot most of them in manual mode! My dad also surprised my mom and I both with a Nook. While I'm not a huge fan of electronic books, it's still a cool little device.

[Christmas makeup: shimmery gold shadow and winged eyeliner!]
I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a good one! The holidays aren't over yet. There's still New Year's to look forward to. I can't wait to wear my gold dress! :D

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Lofthouse Style Sugar Cookies

Merry Christmas!! It's not Christmas without cut-out sugar cookies. Don't try to tell me otherwise. Your efforts will be futile. My mom and I have made sugar cookies every year for Christmas for as long as I can remember. This year I decided to use a different recipe to try to get a more softer, fluffier sugar cookie. Mission complete.

I decided to get a little fancier with the decorating too. My mom and I would always just sprinkle red and green sugar on top, but this year I decided to use actual frosting and different kinds of sprinkles and such. I was excited. Decorating is my favorite part of the whole process! I think the Christmas trees are my favorite.

Yesterday I probably ate about 20 cookies, plus pasta, meatballs and half a cannoli. Needless to say, I was stuffed by the end of the night...and I'm about to do it all over again! I'm definitely going to have to get back on the workout wagon once it's all over!

[So many sprinkles]

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. May it be merry and bright! :)

Lofthouse Style Sugar Cookies
Source: Two Peas and Their Pod


For the Cookies:

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups sour cream

For the Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream

Food coloring, optional
Sprinkles, optional


In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and beat at low speed until combined.

Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Dough will be a little sticky and that is ok. Divide dough into two sections. Flatten into rectangles about 1½ inches thick, then wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats; set aside.

Lightly flour the countertop and the top of the dough. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to ¼-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7 minutes, until cookies are slightly golden around the edges. Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Cook cookies completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, in a medium bowl, cream together the butter and vanilla extract. Slowly beat in powdered sugar and the pinch of salt. Once smooth and creamy, add in heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, then beat at medium-high speed for a minute or two until light and fluffy. Add food coloring, if desired, and beat until combined.

Once cookies have cooled completely, frost and add sprinkles, if desired. Allow frosting to set, then store in an air-tight container.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Spotted in the Shipyard

I love docks, which I guess comes from growing up on the shoreline. I'm not particularly a fan of boats, I just love nautical things in general. But what's awesome about shipyards is that they're pretty much completely desserted during the colder months, making them a prime spot for photoshoots. I'm sure I could take pictures there in the summer, but it'd probably be packed with old fishermen and boaters and that does not sound like a fun time for me.

Dress: Forever 21//Blouse: Banana Republic (thrifted)//Tights: No label//Shoes: Mudd//Belt: Forever 21
We took these pictures during the golden hour just as the sun was starting to set. I love the way the world looks during this time. Everything looks so pretty and brilliant. I love watching the sunset.

I've been feeling less productive, lately. I don't know if it's the weather or what, but I'm just not feeling up for much. I'm feeling less motivated to workout and to go out and brave the cold to take pictures. I've been feeling like more of a hermit, preferring to stay in cuddled in blankets, drinking tea and watching a movie. But the other night I had a creative surge and I started going through all my clothes, trying to put outfits together. This outfit was one of the products of that. I really love this dress. The reason I haven't worn it a lot is because I get so nervous to wear white. I'm always afraid I'm going to stain it somehow.

Christmas is in three days and I still have a couple more batches of cookies to make. I made a batch last night so that my weekend wouldn't be completely overtaken by cookies. I also still have Christmas Eve day to finish up anything I have to! I'm really excited for Christmas. I love giving presents, especially when they're surprises! I also like to receive surprises. It's just not as fun when I know what I'm getting! It's always nice to put thought into a gift and take the time to choose something that you really know they'll love.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

I finally started my Christmas baking bonanza Tuesday night. Among the many new cookie recipes I planned to make for Christmas, I decided I'd throw in a nice chocolate cookie. We never make chocolate cookies for the holidays and I thought Chocolate Crinkles would be perfect...especially because Crinkle reminds me of Kringle. I don't know why, but crinkle cookies in general remind me of winter.

These cookies are really soft and chewy, which is the best kind of texture for a cookie if you ask me. I like that the dough is rolled in powdered sugar. It makes them look more wintery that if they're covered in snow!

In addition to starting my seasonal bake-a-thon, I also ordered my dress for New Year's Eve. Every year I always want to wear something silver/gold and sparkly, but I can never find anything. Well...this year I finally found a cute gold-sequined dress! It's not exactly warm like I'd like it to be, but I can fix that with some sweater tights and a cardigan...or maybe I'll break out my leather jacket. I've gotten lucky this season with ASOS. I found both my Christmas and New Year's Eve dresses on there!

I baked some sugar cookies that I will post soon, and this weekend I will be doing the rest of my baking, along with attending another Christmas party! I'm looking forward to the long weekend I'll be having, even though it'll be a super busy one. Oh, the holiday season... :)

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Source: Williams-Sonoma


1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°F. Put the confectioners' sugar into a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add 1 egg and beat on medium speed until blended. Add the other egg and vanilla and beat until blended. Add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended.

Using a tablespoon, scoop up a rounded spoonful of dough. Scrape the dough off the spoon into the palm of your other hand. Roll the dough into a ball. Roll the ball in the confectioners' sugar until covered. Place the balls on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies until they are crackled and puffed, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a spatula, move the cookies onto the rack and let cool completely. Makes about 24 cookies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rain, Rain, Go Away

So this is what happens when I get nothing but crappy days to take pictures on, but am still determined to take pictures, despite the cold, rain, and bad lighting. Chris thought I was crazy, but I was having blogging withdrawal! He was a trooper, taking pictures while wearing my coat and scarf along with his hat...haha. The end was result was me being cold and not getting really good pictures, but I will post some nonetheless because I'm excited about this sweater.

Sweater: Absolutely via TJ Maxx//Shorts: Forever 21//Tights: Simply Vera by Vera Wang//Boots: BC Footwear
I found this sweater at TJ Maxx for $15. I've been wanting some more sweaters and I've also been eyeing all the fun polka-dot sweaters that are all over Pinterest and the like, so this was a definite win. I love how it's got a high-low thing going on, too. I'll definitely be wearing this a lot!

You guys...I'm kind of freaking out because I still haven't started baking for Christmas. I think my problem is that I idealize things and want to make about 10 different cookies when it's really not all that realistic for me to do that while still working, having a social life, sleeping, blogging, etc. I'm probably going to work on some cookies tonight, though, so that should calm my nerves a bit. I also have tomorrow off and then a five day weekend starting Friday night which will also give me plenty of time.

I still have a couple more gifts to get and then I'll be done! The last couple of weeks before the new year are always such a whirlwind of shopping, parties, presents, food, and baked goods. Not that it's a bad thing. It's always exciting...even when you're up half the night swearing at your sugar cookies because the icing isn't coming out right. Or is that just me?