A Mish-Mash of Life Lately

We still have some of our Christmas decorations up. Don’t judge. Life has been busy lately, or at least it seems that way. I’m usually up by 7am every weekday to help Brett get out the door (a.k.a., make his lunch), and while I typically don’t head into work until 10 or 11am, I use that time to get the majority of my design work done. I’m loving having consistent design projects, but not loving that I get on a roll, lose track of time, and all of a sudden I have to leave. Talk about major motivation to keep growing my business and blog . . . someday, someday.

Anyway, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, mainly because of some hefty design work that I can’t wait to share with you in the future. I thought today I’d just share just a few snapshots of life lately:

pizzaloafI can’t help sharing pictures of good food. This was taken about a month ago when one of my best friends came to visit. I almost always have some sort of pizza on the menu every week, whether it’s stromboli, regular pizza, pizza bagels, pizza loaf . . . you get the picture. It’s so easy and cheap to make. In this case, we went with two pepperonis, one veggie, and one barbeque chicken. Let’s just say that last one was amazing. I had the leftover shredded barbeque chicken in the freezer, so once that was thawed, all I had to do was heat it up and throw it on the loaf before it was baked. SO good. Pizza loaves are always crowd pleasers. Just make sure you have plenty of cheese.

cookieThe Superbowl. We had Brett’s family over, and I wanted to make something cute but also really easy. Hello, giant cookie. You were delicious. I was going to just buy pre-made cookie dough for this, but I knew I had all of the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies already. When I Googled “giant football cookie” this was the first link. The only change I made was using all chocolate chips because I had no peanut butter chips, and I just used canned chocolate frosting. The white decoration (courtesy of Brett’s artistic side) is just melted white chocolate chips since I couldn’t find those cake decorating pens anywhere. This cookie really did turn out huge — we were eating it for weeks afterward, bits at a time. Yum.

olympicsSay hello to my nice old Mac. You better believe I brought it out to the living room to work while we watched the Olympics. We’re a little obsessed over here. I mean, it only happens once every few years — how do more people not care? Not a single person I work with has watched any of the events. I’m not a very athletic person, and normally the only sport I truly enjoy watching is football (and gymnastics and figure skating, duh). But some of these sports are insane! I can’t believe people actually do some of these things (going 85 miles an hour down a hill?!) for careers. We only watch NBC’s prime time coverage, so sometimes we accidentally know who wins medals, but most of the time we have fun guessing who will win each event and trying to say the athletes’ names. I’ll be a little sad when it’s all over this weekend.

mexicanfoodA lot of people go all out for Valentine’s Day . . . yeah, we’re just not those people. We did little things to make it special: Brett got me a box of delicious chocolates and I got him a metal cup he’s been wanting. I know, you’re thinking, “Seriously? A cup?” My husband’s been obsessed with survival kits lately, and the cup can be used for boiling water. Yep. I’m impressed with myself for just knowing that much. And what does that have to do with a picture of half-eaten food? This was our Valentine’s dinner, a day late. We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant and stuffed ourselves silly. I tell him pretty much every time we get this food that I couldn’t have married someone who doesn’t like Mexican cuisine. We eat way too much of it.

eggsHere was my Pinterest project this past week. I was really craving hard-boiled eggs, and since Brett hates them I get them all to myself. The reason they have weird brown spots on the shells is because I baked them in the oven — yes, you read that right! I saw the idea on Pinterest and had to try it. I would link to the website but the pin only had a description and no clickable link. Basically, all you do is put a dozen eggs in a 12-cup muffin tin, set your oven to 325, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Seriously, that’s it. I think I cooked them around 26-27 minutes, and while a couple of them were difficult to peel, they turned out perfectly! I’m totally doing this in the future. Way easier than boiling water.

So there was a tiny look at our life lately, and I just realized it’s mostly food. Exciting stuff, people. Anyway, this coming week is Brett’s winter break from school, and we’re flying out to Ohio to spend some time with my family. Even though our flight is literally at the crack of dawn, we’re so excited to see loved ones and relax. The forecast says there will finally be a break in the seemingly constant inches and inches of snow up here, so we shouldn’t have any problems flying this weekend. Is anyone else ready for spring? Me too.

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A Pinterest Success: Christmas M&M Cookies in a Jar

Gifts in jars . . . what could be cuter? I got this idea from a conglomeration of pins that showed pretty much anything you could imagine stuffed into jars as presents: banana bread mixes, drink mixes, foot scrubs, handmade lotions — the possibilities are endless, and mason jars just make everything cute. Am I right? Just look: GiftCookieJar_1You know I’m right.

I made one of these for each of my five co-workers, Brett’s co-teacher, our landlords, and my best friend in Ohio . . . eight in all. The jars came in a package of 12 from Walmart. Target also has them, as does probably every other craft store out there. The ribbon also came from Walmart’s craft aisle. As for the “directions”, I just used a couple fun fonts and printed them myself, adhering to the jar with two small pieces of double-sided tape.

GiftCookieJar_2I actually did a test-run of placing the ingredients in the jar and then making the recipe itself. No way was I going to give away a recipe that was a dud. Luckily I only had to make a couple of adjustments and the cookies were great. But I also learned an important lesson . . . let’s just say it looked like a flour bomb exploded all over my kitchen table, and that’s an understatement. It’s actually really difficult to measure out two cups of flour, mix in some baking soda and salt, and then put the mixture in a jar without spilling, oh, half of it.

So you would think my first step would be to re-visit the canning aisle where I got the mason jars for a canning funnel, right? Oh, you give me too much credit. Of course I didn’t go there. I didn’t even know those funnels existed. I went to the kitchen gadgets aisle, and there aren’t funnels there. None. And when I asked someone where to find them, I was led to — where else — the oil aisle for cars. Well, the good news is there were funnels, and I got so excited to use my new funnel. Seriously, my excitement over a funnel was a little ridiculous, and not long-lasting. The flour immediately got stuck in the mouth. Cue me banging the jar on the table to get the flour down and using a wooden spoon handle to shove it through. It took forever. So the bad news is I didn’t realize until after driving the 20 minutes to Walmart and 20 minutes back that I needed a wide-mouth funnel. Somehow I finally completed all eight jars, but I totally learned that lesson. Never again.

Besides all of that, I really did enjoy making these cute gifts and giving them away. I realize a lot of people make and receive tons of cookies around Christmastime, but to me, here was a major time-saver handed to you in an adorable package: going to a Christmas party and quickly need a dessert to take? Having a few friends over and nothing in the pantry? Or maybe you’re simply craving nice, warm chocolate-y cookies from the oven and don’t have the ingredients to make them from scratch? Well, here you go. All you need besides the mix are two eggs, some butter, and vanilla extract. Yum! Here are the instructions for the jars:

Christmas M&M Cookies in a Jar (adapted from this recipe)

What you need:

  • 1 quart-sized glass jar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. chocolate candies or chocolate chips (I used half mini green and red M&Ms, half mini chocolate chips)
  1. Rinse the jar with hot water and dry thoroughly.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Place this mixture in the bottom of the jar.
  3. Onto this, layer the brown sugar, then the white sugar, and finally the chocolate candies/chips.
  4. Attach the following directions to the jar: (1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (2) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (3) Empty the contents of the jar into a large bowl and mix well. (4) Using your hands, add in 3/4 c. softened butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (5) Beat 2 eggs with 1 t.vanilla extract. Work this into the flour mixture until well-combined. If dough is too crumbly, place in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. (6) Shape dough into 1 inch-sized balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Slightly flatten the dough balls. (7) Bake for 10-14 minutes until edges are slightly browned. Remove cookies to a rack to cool. Makes about 3 dozen small cookies.