Oh, Christmas Tree.

I tried to hang up Christmas lights in my bed room window a few days ago. My make-shift hooks held for ehhh…. 5 minutes, until the wiring miraculously unhooked itself from them and went swinging across to the other side of the window frame. Crash boom went the big red bulb and hello said my carpet to little teeny weeny ruby colored shards of glass. 

I am doing all I can to not be that bulb this week…. and doing a half-assed job of it. Funny how we always forget how stressful you can allow the week before Christmas to be huh?

Gifts or no gifts, we decided on no gifts, somehow there is always something that needs to be done in order to maintain the tradition that is Christmas. I’ve said it before, and I will say it every day, I LOVE tradition, but staying up until 4 am to ice cookies last night? Mmmmm not sure how that fits into the balance. 

This is my favorite tradition. 

A Christmas Tree. 

Homemade Christmas bulbs. Clear glass ornaments stuffed with gold sparkle covered plastic netting. 

Bits of twisted golden wood thrown in throughout the tree. Twinkling next to each light it hangs off of. 

I forgot my tripod. Pardon the shakeys. 

Tomorrow morning I plan on waking up with a post-it note to do list plastered to my forehead. 

All for the love of tradition… 

which is okay with me. 

Whatcha think of the cookie trays I put together today for a few customers of Spa Car Wash in Berwyn?

‘Tis the season for sugar overdose!!

 

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7 Minutes to Heaven… & Handmade Sno Balls.

On a picture I instagramed this morning of my chocolate cupcakes, I think I used the term … redefining waking and baking one cupcake at a time? In my defense I was still half asleep. 🙂 

But seriously – the last two weeks, every morning I have rolled out of bed, PJs still on, hair still a hot mess, just to go straight down to turn on the oven. This morning was suppose to be my first morning of a little R&R, but, I had a tad bit of seperation anxiety from the kitchen. 

I had buttermilk left, and since about the only thing I didn’t make for the party yesterday were chocolate cupcakes, that was just going to have to be where I got my fix. And, let me not forget to mention the unquenchable craving I was having for 7 minute frosting. 

Please tell me you guys have stuck your finger in a bowl of this stuff at least once in your life?

It is a frosting that defines the word divine. It’s like marshmallow fluff, except totally not. It’s so much better, and has a flavor I just can’t explain.

click, print!

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Spread A Little Holiday Cheer.

Diane Keaton was on the Ellen show yesterday. I love her. Her movies are fabulous, her style is unique, and she is just all around fabulous. I was listening, not really watching, until she started talking about when she was 23, and how she was work in the hair department for a production company, and how she was basically miserable. She then equated that to her broad observation of what the 20s – 23 year olds experience of the world is. It’s confusing, you feel lost, you’re out of school – a place that had been your reality for so long – and now you’re a little unsure of what motivates you. My ears perked up – not only because I am 23 – but because I think what she said, although not necessarily true, is an important statement to remind yourself of every day. Look at where she is today – and my reality was once hers.  

This is the first holiday season where I actually feel like I have time to do what I love – bake a smile on people’s faces – and even still I am not sure how I can actually make this into a living. I know what motivates me, and I am really not lost, but I guess I am confused. Confusion caused by the lesser evils of the issues in the world – the issue that I have so much that I love – so what to actually pursue first?

I just cleaned the last crumb off the counter after two days of baking for a holiday party for my favorite lady in the world. I loved every minute of it – I love all the prep, and the sugar, the butter, the vanilla. I don’t love having to clean all that up, but I love making it into something! This party was a drinks and dessert secret santa exchange for a group of moms. 

We agreed on a bunch of mini desserts. 

Christmas confetti cupcakes, which I decorated with green icing and sprinkles to look like tangled strands of christmas lights!

Grown up goldfish – different than my original recipe – with a hint of finely chopped dried rosemary. 

Vanilla spritz cookies with an essence of cardamon…. probably my most favorite spice next to cinnamon. 

Chocolate Chip Brownie Santa Hats, strawberries with a dab of cream cheese frosting. 

Mini red velvet cupcakes, with cream cheese frosting, and a swirl of candy cane crunch frosting. I cut a little hole for a popsicle stick, and then tied a bow. TaDA, peppermint lollipop cupcakes!

Gingerbread cupcakes, with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and a scare of my gingerbread marshmallows.

Not pictured, was one of my favorite Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding pies, and the delicious treats B picked up from the Candy corner at the Wayne Farmer’s market. 

The night was then completed by what B has named the Snowflake Martini.

1 bottle of Cranberry Vodka 

1 bottle of Triplesec

1 bottle of white cranberry juice

1 bag of frozen cranberries

Ice 

Sugar (for glasses)

So, as I am staring and the broom and dustpan, dreading a midnight sweep, all it takes is thinking about how much fun it was to create all of those delicious sweets and how much fun the ladies had to tonight, to realize that the crumbs are nothing. 

We all start out somewhere. So if you are 23, and like Diane Keaton did, feel a bit confused, just make sure that every day you do what you can, to do what you love…. and you will get there one day. 

Cinnamon Hot Cocoa & Homemade Gingerbread Marshmallows

To a girl that carries around the deer park gallon jug of water every day – and never drinks anything but water, every day, and every night – starting my day with a big mug of cinnamon hot cocoa was like a huge deal. I think my heart actually skipped a beat with the first sip. So, excluding the occasional hot chai, or decaf iced coffee or tea, I have been off the drink wagon for almost 3 years. No soda, no sugary drinks at all, no coffee, no caffeine ever, no nada. It stops being boring after year one – or I wouldn’t have made it this long. 😉

The cause for this morning’s indulgence? Homemade gingerbread marshmallows.

The effect? Melty ooey goey gingerbread marshmallows floating on top of the freshly whipped cream in my beautiful mug of cinnamon hot cocoa.

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Christmas FUNfetti Cake… from scratch.

It’s amazing what getting into an argument with a guy will do to a female. Me being the female in this case. 

Start my day with a text gone wayyy wrong at 7 am, and instead of going to the kitchen and grabbing a big glass of water, I go in the refrigerator to take butter out so it can start softening. Call it emotional eating, stress baking, whatever it is, it happened and it happened oh so gracefully today. 

My bad morning of texts somehow coincided with a similar bad morning for one of my bffs, which resulted in an hour long phone conversation, all the while I one handedly crafted a stand mixer bowl full of nothing other than the batter for a batch of homemade funfetti mini cupcakes. Fun right? (ha. pun very much intended). Red & Green Christmas funfetti of course. 

Any red and green sprinkles work – as long as you don’t use sanding sugar, as it melts and bleeds.  

But you can’t just throw them into the mix. The secret is to coat the sprinkles with flour before mixing them into the batter. This way, it is easier for them to stay suspended in the cake batter, and not just sink to the bottom. (the same tip goes for placing chocolate chips in brownie batter. Coat them with cocoa powder to bake your best brownie)

Obviously – I made these cupcakes seasonal, but use whatever sprinkles you like! Lot a hot pink funfetti cake? Sexay.

click, print!

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Little Bites in the Big City.

The city was glistening this weekend. When my friend Wesley at Free People asked me to bring sweets to their holiday coat drive event in December, all I could think about was how perfect NYC is for the holidays. Everywhere you turn the store windows are festive, the fashion is cozy, and as annoying as shoving your way through midtown might be, there is no better time of the year to see the city alive. 

Now, when we think holiday desserts, there are a few classics, that we can’t seem to keep our hands off of. No holiday season passes in my house without peppermint bark, gingerbread cutouts, sugar cookies, and decorated spritz cookies. With a small budget, I had to be selective… with desserts? Almost, impossible!

As much as I wanted to create little Free People gingerbread girls – I will have to save that for another day 🙂

Instead… I did Holidays the Free People way. Hot pinks and bright sparkley colors – and everything but red & green.

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A Sweet Trip: Philly to New York.

A Sunday in New York City. Let me rephrase, the most beautiful December Sunday in New York City. 

The weather was like from one of those fall days that you wait so patiently for at the end of every summer. Driving through town I noticed every little beautiful thing about that Sunday – the brunch (OUTSIDE, EVEYWHERE), the babies, the strollers, the joggers, and the smiles. 

And add to my gorgeous Sunday, an afternoon at the Free People location on the Upper East Side. The best kind of day for an event. Cue my mini sweet treats, glitter and sequins and DIY ornaments, drool-enducing cords and knit sweaters… and the faces of so many old friends and new friends. 

Vanilla & chocolate cupcakes. Cinnamon buttercream. Hand cut goldfish crackers. Iced sugar cookies. Chocolate covered strawberries. Mini chocolate chip cookies. 

All homemade to help the 3rd avenue store kick off their holiday coat drive.

Check back for recipes tomorrow. But in the meantime…

Good night, New York. Back to Philadelphia in the AM. 

Ginger & Spice & Everything Nice!

My head is so deep in the mixing bowl right now I am surprised I am even finding the time to write down my thoughts.

It’s midnight, I’m exhausted. Too exhausted to even remember what I actually did today.

I just snuck one of my gingersnaps out of the tupperware for my midnight snack. Certainly can’t forget that I made those today. They are sooo good it’s SILLY. Snappy and spicy with that thing that molasses does to a cookie. If I don’t stop I will go sneak another one.

The purpose of making them besides the obvious – tis the season – is that I need to make a bunch of different crusts that require gingersnaps to make an appearance. I have an order for a pumpkin cheesecake, there is another pumpkin cheesecake for my family dinner, and then a traditional pumpkin pie in the works.

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Where do you feel thankful?

Given the choice between keeping or breaking a tradition – I always stick with keeping it.

Except for one of the most insane Thanksgiving meals I’ve ever had at The Breakers in Palm Beach… like insane, like I had sushi and mashed potatoes on the same plate, and we walked away with freshly baked pumpkin pies to take home …. Thanksgiving is always a comfy cozy home thing.

In the post-divorce era, aka like 6 years ago, Dad and I decided we would create a Thanksgiving our way.

Dad is the savory, I am the sweet, and two years ago, a few days before Turkey day – this guy became chaperone of the whole operation.

Sleeping on the job, as usual.

There are lists and notecards and calendars for preparation all filed away in a little manila folder.

Quite a collection after all these years – but so necessary when it comes to seamless execution. Each day has it’s duties.

At the beginning of last week we ordered almost 45 pounds of Turkeys at the Farmer’s Market. I baked up 8 trays of cornbread, to be dried for stuffing. There was some serious produce shopping – but only for certain goods – potatoes, yams, sage, onions, leeks, peppers, lemons, chestnuts. A big Costco trip. And of course, some baking pantry restocking for me.

Today – 5 days prior to the big 30 person shindig – we prep all of the little things – this an onion and leek casserole.

The homemade apple pear sauce is in the freezer.

4 bowls of Dad’s cranberry and mission fig sauce is chillin.

Along with the vacuum packed sleeves of chestnuts – 15 pounds – which dad cooked and shelled already.

There is also no time to waste getting together what I need to decorate the house and the tables. Ash and I went for a long walk today collect a bunch of my favorite season’s most beautiful attributes. 

.. all of which required some serious bathing when we returned home. ew, bugs.

We also stopped at one of the most beautiful hidden little places. 

The sound of the water gurgling was like an instant chill-pill. 

If you want to check out more of the vision I am going for with this year’s family tradition – check out my Thanksgiving PinBoard

There’s a lot of this (Elle Decor). 

And THIS (Design Sponge).

I also just ordered a big roll of this off of Amazon this morning – to arrive, fingys crossed by Wednesday. 

Wait till you see what it will be used for. 

Eeee. 

Do you have family traditions for Thanksgiving that you love as much as I do? share share. favorite recipes? favorite dishes? 

a sweet cake for a sweet girl.

I never thought I would have stories that truly define the word baffling. I never thought I would have to add the stories of the last few weeks to my own. But I also never thought I would find so much love in one little cake for one little girl.  One little girl that puts a smile on my face with every little word, and every big smile. That is why, when her mama asked me to bake a birthday cake for her 2nd birthday, I knew it was just the thing I needed to brighten up my baffling days.

The only guideline? Pink.

A cake as cute as my little Colette. She is a pint size little lady, with a personality as big as her appetite. I love watching her munch on her bowls of snacks, and studying her mastermind climbing skills as she gets herself on top of the kitchen counter to sip on her sister’s left over hot cocoa… she is my kind of girl.

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