With the holiday this week, time seemed to fly by. Not only is today my busiest day of the year at work, but my other hours of the week were jammed packed with holiday festivities. I was so happy to get the chance to go home to my parents’ house yesterday – it’s something that I don’t get to do often enough, but when I do, it’s some of the most relaxing hours. I sat by the fire all day, drank homemade lattes, and caught up on some blog work. It was so nice just to have the quality time at home, and I’m looking forward to more lazy afternoons like that this holiday season. Hope everyone has a great rest of their weekend!
(A cozy cup of coffee)
(The roaring fire I sat by all day long)
(Ryan posing during our brisk mountain walk)
(Simple but perfect desserts at our second Thanksgiving)
Incase you need something to keep you occupied while you’re waiting for the turkey to cook, or something lazy to do after you’re in a food coma, here’s the inside scoop of deals and promo codes out there this Black Friday! It’s one of the busiest shopping days of the year, and if you’re a (semi) shopoholic like me, it’s also one of the most exciting. Working in retail, I’m definitely not one to get out and get buried in the crowds, but I do enjoy a good deal or two from shopping online. Here’s some of my favorite deals out there this holiday season – happy shopping – and Happy Thanksgiving!
Shopbop: 25% off your purchase, free 3-day shipping (Code: GOBIG14)
Nordstrom: Select items up to 50% off, free shipping
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve put together different selections of Thanksgiving menus, and this week I’m wrapping things up with something totally different. For this menu, it’s not what you would expect. Thanksgiving is so traditionally turkey, gravy, and stuffing, but if you’re looking to break out of the mold – this menu is for you. It chooses to swap out the traditional turkey for pork loin, and serve squash with bacon and pilaf with mushrooms. It’s full of savory flavor – and is definitely something that will catch your guests off guard – in the best way.
Decorating the table for our family Thanksgiving dinner is usually my specialty, and the highlight of my year. However, this past weekend, during our Thanksgiving at the cabin, traditions shifted slightly. While I usually have months to prepare, craft, and plan, this year, I had a matter of hours to see what we had at the house, and throw something presentable together. We decided to pull decor that was already up there, use paper products for easy clean up, and use the china that the previous owners left behind (none of which I am fond of). This forced me to get outside of my normal decorative process, and really get creative.
What started as what I thought may be a disaster (due to paper napkins and tablecloths), actually turned out to be one of my favorite tables yet. We used an elevated white paper table cloth for easy clean up, with burnt orange paper napkins, tied with twine and embellished with a leaf gem. For the center of the table, we used a raffia runner with simple decor composed of tea lights wrapped with twine and glued, decorative pumpkins from around the house, and mini pinecones. We then used pieces of wheat and added them to milk glasses tied with green raffia for color. The boys even got involved and helped – and proved that table decor doesn’t have to be fancy, elaborate, or expensive to provide a nice setting for a meal together. Here’s how we decorated our table on a whim this Thanksgiving.
(My favorite girl nestled up in her new favorite blanket)
I’ve been on the vacation for the last day and a half, so as an effort to ‘unplug’ and relax, I’ll be turning in a day early this week. We are taking the family to the cabin for a pre-thanksgiving this weekend, and getting a head start on some of the Christmas decorating. After this weekend starts the busiest weeks of the year at work, so I’ll be taking the opportunity to do a whole lot of nothing but lounging by the fire, drinking coffee in my pajamas, and getting fresh mountain air. As always, you can follow along on The M.A. Times adventures through Instagram here. Hope everyone has a great weekend!
(A leisurely birthday breakfast with my sister at Herons)
(Having no shame in the fact that Taylor Swift’s new album got me through most of this week)
When I bought my donut pan months ago to make these, I promised myself donuts wouldn’t become an addiction. I swore I’d only make them every so often, on special occasions, or if I was having a bad day. To avoid the temptation, I put the pan in the very back of my cabinet. And well, it worked. It wasn’t until I was cleaning the other morning that I remembered I even had the pan. I looked up a fall inspired recipe, and found this recipe for maple frosted donuts.
Here’s the thing – these donuts are amazing highly addictive. I can’t stop eating them. If you don’t want to become a full-fledged donut addict, I highly suggest not making these. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Make the glaze first. Melt butter and maple syrup together in a saucepan over low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and sift in confectioner’s sugar. Whisk until well combined. If you desire a stronger maple flavor, add maple extract.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, milk and yogurt until well combined. Add in milk and yogurt, and mix completely. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and combined until just mixed. Batter will be thick, do not over mix.
Pour batter into a piping bag (or ziplock bag with the corner cut out) and fill donut molds 2/3 of the way full. Slam against counter a few times to get it evenly spread, and then make for 9-10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let sit for a few moments before transferring them to the cooling rack. Allow to completely cool before dipping them into the maple glaze. Donuts stay fresh for two days, or freeze for up to two months.
It suddenly dawned on me yesterday that Thanksgiving is next week! Once Thanksgiving hits, it’s the official start to the holiday season, and with that, holiday parties. When giving is the main focus this time of year, it’s always nice not to show up empty handed. While the traditional flowers and bottles of wine are nice, here are seven ways to jazz up your hostess gifts this year, and give them something to remember.
Wrapped Wine: Instead of handing your hostess a plain bottle, dress it up a little! Buy a natural linen kitchen towel to add to the gift, and finish off which a leather tie and a hangtag. Taking the extra step makes it look like you put some thought and personalization into the gift.
Fancy Flowers: The same rule of thumb goes for gifting flowers at the holidays. It’s a perfectly acceptable gift, but take the time to take it out of the traditional plastic wrap, and into some brown paper. Finish the package off with a velvet bow or festive ribbon. Something as simple as changing out the packaging makes the gift look more elevated and the flowers look more expensive. A little goes a long way!
Homemade Bread: If you’re at all good in the kitchen (and your friends know it), it’s always nice to bring a little something homemade. It doesn’t have to be anything over the top and fancy (as you wouldn’t want to steal the show from the hostess), but just a little addition to the meal to show that you are. A festive loaf of bread wrapped I’m simple wax paper and twine is always a perfect go to. If it isn’t needed for the meal, than it’s great for the hostess to have breakfast planned out for the following morning.
Infused Vodka: This is another great homemade gift for the hostess who already has everything. It can either be used to kick the party up a notch, or can be added to their personal stash. Either way, you’ll have a fun time making this gift, and the hostess will most likely have a fun time using it!
Gingerbread Kit: This is a great gift, especially for family get-togethers that involve kids. The packaging is adorable, and it is something fun and simple that the whole family can enjoy doing together. Follow the link above for several other “in a jar” hostess gift ideas.
DIY Chalkboard Tray: This is one of my favorite ideas – mostly because I love a good DIY, but also because a cheese platter is one of my favorite things. Everyone needs a way to display their appetizers, and the do-it-yourself aspect makes this gift extra special. It’s super easy to make, and will most likely be well loved. Feel free to bring along the cheese and crackers too!
Potpourri: When all else fails, this is a simple, old-fashioned, and seasonally appropriate hostess gift. While giving candles can sometimes be overdone, gifting homemade potpourri feels classic and thoughtful. The natural top and quirky printed label add extra personality, and is something that is sure to please.