Month: December 2014

A Review of 2014

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Looking back over the last year, it’s hard to believe I fit so much in. I looked back through all my old posts at the close of  2013, and remember being impressed then. Now, that I doubled the amount I have blogged, it is crazy to go back, and look at how much I accomplished or changed in the last year. Here are some posts that stood out to me as I looked back through – some are because they were favorites, some because I had a great time doing them, and some, well, they are just funny. Hope everyone has a very happy new year!

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Crumb Cake

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One of my favorite treats to have growing up was crumb cake. It was usually something we had on the weekend, when we could just take our time enjoy a slice. I’ve had a few days off for the holidays, so I woke up one morning feeling like I needed to recreate those leisurely mornings from my childhood. I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it may be even better than the boxed kind I used to eat. The touch of almond extract really adds extra flavor, and it is extra crumbly.

Ingredients

Crumb Topping:

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 1/2 ounces)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Cake:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients for crumb topping together in a large bowl. Create a well in the center and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, vanilla, and almond extract for crumb topping. Pour into well of dry ingredients. Pull dry ingredients into wet with a fork, and begin to form crumbs. You want some larger and some smaller, but no larger than a 1/2 inch. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar for cake until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Add in vanilla extract and sour cream, scraping sides to make sure it is well combined. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Add mixture to butter mixture, and beat on low until just combined.

Pour cake mixture into a greased 9×13 inch pan and spread evenly. Pour crumb mixture on top, and bake for 30-35 minutes.

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Rainy Reflections

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It’s crazy to think we are just a couple of days away from the end of 2014. It’s been such a fast year with so many wonderful memories. This time last year, was when I decided to throw myself into blogging. I remember sitting at an eye appointment with my Poppop, realizing how much I loved this hobby, and promising myself that a year later, I would still be doing it.

I’ve had so many amazing experiences this past year and have learned so much already. I feel like I’m just at th beginning of something great, and I can’t wait to see where the next year takes me. Thank you all for being a part of this journey so far, and all of your support that keeps me going. I hope everyone has a wonderful end of 2014, and embraces the possibilities 2015 has in store for us!

Photos by Ryan Sides


SHOP THE POST

Frenchi Lace Top :: H&M Skirt (similar) :: BCBG Pumps (similar) :: J.Crew Bag (old, love this one) :: Moon & Lola Necklace :: Made well Ring :: YSL ‘Rouge Voulpte’ Lipstick

My Christmas Story

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Yesterday, Cupcakes & Cashmere posted about Holiday Traditions. It was so fascinating to read about what other people do year to year that makes the holidays special and unique to them.  Whether it’s shopping sprees or Christmas dinners that are traditional, it seems like everyone has a little something they just can’t have Christmas with out. I’ve always joked that my family has so many Christmas traditions that it makes us seem a little ritualistic/crazy – but I wouldn’t change a minute of it. Here’s what my holiday will look like starting tomorrow afternoon!

Sometime Christmas Eve afternoon, I’ll load up my presents into my car, and send a text to my family saying “Santa’s sleigh is on the move,” meaning I’m headed over to my parents’ house. I’ll arrive, decorate the mantle and the table, and help cook Christmas Eve dinner. We will eat chicken parmesan, go to mass and then come home and my sister and I will take a picture under our Christmas tree (a “foot pop” is usually involved). Next, we receive our annual Christmas jammies – they are always cute, comfy, and well coordinated. Another picture under the Christmas tree follows. At this point, we all retreat to our separate rooms, and finish up any wrapping or card making we have left. My sister and I usually always fell asleep listening to our parents wrapping presents and laughing.

Christmas morning, I’m always the first one up. I’ll make sure my parents are up, then go to my sister’s room, shake her gently, an say “wake up, it’s Christmas!” She will reluctantly roll out of bed, and finish up making a card (or three). We will get all of our presents together, and sit and wait at the top of the stairs. Our parents meet us at the bottom (usually stopping us for a photo op halfway through), and then we head into our small family room for stockings.

We listen to the same Christmas CD every year, and stockings never take any less than an hour or two – it’s a little ridiculous, but always my favorite part. Next, after we finish stockings (and the overflow piles), we pause for eggs benedict for breakfast. We then move into the other living room, that has the tree and our gifts, and take turns opening until there is nothing left under the tree. Christmas is a several hour long procedure in our house, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This year, my Christmas story will be changing for the first time. My sister got married this past summer, and we will be welcoming Pat into our Christmas Traditions. I’m excited to see how our growing family adds for even more fun and love on Christmas. Some things may change, but how happy being home and around family this time of year will always stay the same.

Winter To-Do List

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I always use the changing of seasons as the beginning of a new period of time. It’s always on the first day of the season that I map out what it is I want to accomplish most. Most of the things on the list have to do with holidays or cliche season-realted things, but others are smaller tasks I have been putting off. Here is what has made it onto my list this holiday season, and what will be keeping me busy during the long, cold months ahead. (You can see my past winter to do list here).

1. Actually manage to stay awake until midnight on New Years Eve.

2. Find a way to organize my closet that I will stick to.

3. See snow (this will make the list year after year).

4. Spend a weekend with friends and family cozied up in the cabin.

5. Attempt to build (and if all else fails, buy) a coffee table.

6. Experiment with making new types of pasta from scratch.

7. Launch a new blog design (coming soon – stay tuned!).

8. Attempt to read all of the magazines I get delivered (and make some of the recipes, too).

9. Take a weekend getaway, or plan a trip for the near future.

10. Get my craft area under control so that I can get re-inspired for some home DIY projects.

*Images via Pinterest 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10

Currently

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(Love my hometown this time of year)

I can’t believe the week before Christmas is already over. I’ve said it a million times but I’ll say it again – this truly is the best time of year. I love everyone’s festive spirit, the hustle bustle, the brisk weather, and the constant get togethers with friends and family. I’m looking forward to a weekend full of fun, including a date night tonight, a gingerbread house party with my Aunt Joan tomorrow (something I haven’t gotten to do since I was a child), Christmas parties, and a day spent with my mom. It’ll be a jam packed weekend, but I can’t wait to indulge in all the festivities. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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(Sometimes I love the fact that my boyfriend is a total five year old)

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(Had several perfect nights spent by my twinkling tree this week)

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(A morning spent wrapping up my Christmas presents)

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(A sneak peek at our annual Christmas card photo)