December 29, 2015

New Year's Resolutions 2016 Edition

The new year is right around the corner. It's there, peeking around the corner, just three days away. Promises of a clean slate and what is to come beckon. No one knows what the next year is going to bring. I like to set myself up with a direction and goals for the upcoming year. Something to work on. Something to work toward. Evaluating the past year and figuring out where it is I want to go helps me grow to be a better me, as a mom, wife, blogger, daughter, friend, writer and everything else I am. Everyone is a work in progress so why not set yourself up in the right direction?

December 22, 2015

A Christmas Message

Dear lovely readers,

This holiday season has been filled with lots of baking for me. In fact, I'm actually behind on decorating and gift wrapping because of all the time that's gone into the goodies! We're still in the process of decking the halls. The stocking garland went up tonight but the stockings are still MIA. Presents are bought, but wrapping paper is still tucked away from last year. Usually, I'm done weeks in advance since I'm such a planner. Even the years I was pregnant and due at the start of the month, I had everything done beforehand, right after Thanksgiving. This is the first year I'm behind. All that's been going on with M2 (more coming soon), my being sick (more on this coming soon, too), the baking and general life have conspired to keep me from getting my act together.

One tradition we've started in our family this year isn't behind schedule. All over Facebook, that little Elf on the Shelf guy has been making an appearance. He simply isn't a fit for our family. Instead, M2 and B have been getting a mini-board book each day that is part of a larger set. All together, the books tell the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. 

December 21, 2015

Best-Ever Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

Every year, the peanut butter blossom cookies I bake are a huge hit. No matter how many dozens I make, it's never enough. The peanut buttery cookies topped with a chocolate kiss simply vanish as if by magic, quicker than Santa pops down the chimney to deliver Christmas gifts. If I should dare to set a peanut butter blossom out on Santa's treat plate, a quick hand snatches it up before the kids are even nestled all snug in their beds. Poor Santa. Maybe one year he'll get lucky enough to try one.

If you'd like to whip up a batch for him at your house (or just enjoy them yourself) here's the simple yet scrumptious recipe. My recipe is a bit different from the rest I've seen as it has more peanut butter and vanilla but less salt. It gives the cookies a richer, more peanut buttery taste. Be sure to get extra chocolate kisses when you make these. I guarantee you some of those are going to "disappear" while you're baking if your house is anything like mine.

December 16, 2015

Colonial Williamsburg Gingerbread Cookies

If you've ever been to Colonial Williamsburg, you most likely remember the awesome gingerbread cookies that are sold in the little shop behind Raleigh Tavern. To me, they are all that gingerbread should be. The perfect blend of spices, aroma and texture in a cookie that screams "Christmas" yet is too good not to eat all year long. My recipe is inspired by these delightful cookies.

colonial williamsburg, gingerbread, gingerbread cookies

These cookies bring back great memories of Colonial Williamsburg for me. It's one of my absolute favorite places. The old houses, architecture, gardens, shops, costumes and decorations are amazing to see. I love stepping back in time to see what our country was once like. You can't help but feel like you're stepping back in time when you're there! The various taverns have some good food and drinks, too. The gingerbread cookies are one of my first stops on visits. I'm always sure to get extras to bring home. I don't make it there very often though, so with this recipe I make my own at home!

December 11, 2015

Soft and Chewy Snickerdoodle Specials

Snickerdoodles are one of my absolute favorite kinds of cookies. My recipe creates the best ever, soft chewy, snickerdoodles.

The ones that are soft and chewy are the absolute best. I'm not one for crunchy, hard cookies, especially when it comes to my snickerdoodles! These tasty treats are good to eat at any time of the year.

I'm an absolute sucker for almost anything cinnamon. I've made these classic cookies so many times over the years and finally have the perfect recipe for them. I add a special, secret ingredient to my recipe. It makes them even tastier and more wonderful.

snickerdoodle, snickerdoodles, cookies, recipe,

December 9, 2015

DIY Holiday Snow Globes

It's getting down to the wire for deciding what to have the kiddos give Grandma and Grandpa or Great-Aunt Rita for the holidays. The hand print ornament is always a hit, but we did that last year. Why not make something festive that's a bit different -- a snow globe! Guest poster Laurie is here to show you how to make them.

Snow globes are a great inexpensive craft project that can be personalized however you'd like. Silly and fun with a plastic elephant and horse or take a classic Christmas route with plastic ornament balls. Even a couple pieces of that old fake tree from the basement can make a really cute snow globe.

Christmas, snow globe, craft, snowglobe, holiday, homemade gift, gift, kids

December 7, 2015

Meltaway Spritz Butter Cookies

Baking cookies one of my most-loved holiday traditions. Every year, I spend hours pouring over recipes I've made before along with new ones deciding what I should make for the holiday season. This year, I'm making seven different kinds. The first ones I made are meltaway spritz butter cookies from a recipe I created myself.

These little gems are a twist on the classic spritz cookie. I looked at recipes for classic spritz cookies to used as my base, poured over meltaway and butter cookie recipes, then picked out what parts of each I liked best. The goal was to have the best parts of each come through in this cookie. Finally, working with a baker friend of mine, I figured out what elements would work well together so I wouldn't be left with something hard or mushy.

In the end, I had an amazingly tasty hybrid cookie that melts in your mouth, reminds you of the spritz your grandma used to make and brings to mind a delicate butter cookie -- all in the same delicious bite.There really is nothing like them that I've ever had before! Anyone else who has tried them said the cookies are amazing and that they were eaten way too quickly.

Other Cookie Recipes
Check out these other great cookie recipes:
Soft and chewy butterscotch & chocolate chip cookies
Soft and chewy snickerdoodle specials
Colonial Williamsburg Gingerbread Cookies
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies (Coming soon!)
Best-Ever Peanut Butter Blossoms

December 2, 2015

How to Keep Your Home Toasty and Utility Bills Low

One of my least favorite things about winter is getting freezing cold feet. The floors are always so cold! I pile on socks and slippers when really, I'd prefer to be barefoot. Another of my least favorite things about winter is the heating bill. Our bill more than doubles trying to keep the house warm enough, even though we all wear heavier clothes. I dream of a cozy house without the chill and of toasty warm feet while I watch the snow gently fall outside. It's the ideal winter dream, truly! Now, my dream can become reality.