Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Cookies

It's cookie week on the Pioneer Woman's blog.  It got me thinking about what kinds of Christmas cookies to make this year.  Here are some I've made in the past:

Magnolia Bakery Peanut Butter Cookies & Melt in Your Mouth Shortbread
Both of these cookies are amazing.
The Peanut butter cookie recipe comes from here:  


And here is the Melt in Your Mouth Shortbread recipe:

They are always a big hit, these are the only ones I definitely make every year.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Whip butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in the confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and flour. Beat on low for one minute, then on high for 3 to 4 minutes. Drop cookies by spoonfuls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Watch that the edges don't brown too much. Cool on wire racks.

Original Recipe Yield 3 dozen

I also like these for something a little different.  The salt is nice.  I'm trying to think what other cookies I have made for the holidays.  Giadia De Laurentiis has a really good recipe for Oatmeal English Toffee Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies that I love.  Snickerdoodles are also good, and my Mom makes cocoa balls and butter balls too.

And just for fun, a few weeks ago about 8 of us (my cousins and aunt's) got together to make the family recipe for Italian Cookies.  Here they are getting sprinkled and drying.  They were good! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Five

1.  Real coffee using a french press, instead of a Senseo pod machine.

2.  Christmas Music:  because I can.

3.  Positive Thinking.
4.  Fun and girlie gloves.

5.  Blogs
Five to Follow:
The Pioneer Woman - Because she beet Bobby Flay on Food Network Throwdown!
Earth to Girl - Because her designs and illustrations are so colorful!
Anna Saccone - Because she has a warm heart and great ideas!
The Blonde Salad - Because she looks so fabulous eating macaroons!
Cheaper than Therapy - Because she's hilarious and has great contests!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Relaxation Series: Bath Time

Relax.  A word that is often easier said than done, especially at this time of year.  I know a lot of people get stressed out during the holidays with all the shopping, baking, and to-do lists.  I don't really have that problem usually, maybe because the time between Thanksgiving and New Years is my favorite time of the year.  Or maybe because I remember to take the time to relax.  

What are your favorite relaxations?  One of mine is definitely a hot bath on a cold winter night with a great book.  I've had a few baths this month and have tried out various products from Lush and various brands.  I've loved Lush since I found it in Scotland a few years ago, before it was ever in the US.  And now we have one in our very own mall and I hear they are going to be added to more Macy's next year.  The only problem with Lush is it can be hard to choose, and also the price point is not ideal.  I tend to go for bubble bars that I can slice for 2 or more baths so it's more cost effective.  I also like a nice night-time bubble bath product that is intended for babies but anyone can benefit.  I think Johnson and Johnson makes the name brand one, but Target has it's one Up and Up version, and the one below is from Walmart.  It smells great, is moisturizing and is under $3.

Some I have tried or will try soon:

This is the Cinders Bath Bomb from Lush.  This is from their website: 
"Fairy godmother, who needs one? Our seasonal best-seller is back, just in time for a happily ever after bath time. Instead of sitting by the fire to warm up this winter, hop in the bath for crackling, warming soak with spicy cinnamon leaf, orange and almond oils. Bathing with Cinders is like falling asleep in front of a log fire and hearing the crackling embers as the snow falls down. Prince Charming not included."

It also says it has almond oil, which is interesting because I LOVE almond, but I did not smell almond.  It just smelled warm and Christmas-y.  I didn't hear the crackling pop rocks either, but yes those are pop rocks on top.  It was okay, but I have to say I am done with bath bombs, it left an oily, yellow ring around my tub that I had to scrub afterwards with Comet.  That wasn't fun.  I will stick to bubble bars which don't do that.

This is the Gingerbread House Bubble Bar.  Isn't it cute?  I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but I will cut it in half for two baths.  From their website:
"Spicy, warming and scrumptious, this gingerbread house is strictly for the bath - no nibbling! It looks good enough to eat, but trust us and crumble it under running water instead. We know you'll find the mounds of cinnamon and ginger oil bubbles just as delicious. Use this one after a long day of snow sledding to banish the winter chills.Buchu oil adds fruity blackcurrant notes to a perfume blend, adding to the refreshingly sweet smell of the Bubble Bar."

This is the Candy Cane Bubble Bar, also have not had a chance to use.  It reminds me of my all time favorite, Blue Skies with Fluffy White Clouds (boy has the price gone up!!).  I can get 3 baths out of this one.  I like that it smells like vanilla and not peppermint.  From their website:

Be warned: this pink bubbly treat is wickedly tempting for those with a serious sweet tooth. Candy Cane smells like a freshly spun candy-floss cloud sprinkled with icing sugar and bubblegum drops. We know... we're naughty. Bad LUSH!

And here is the bubble bath I was talking about that smells great, is soothing and moisturizing.  Find it at Target or Walmart.

I also enjoy the Philosophy brand and have been using their products for awhile.  I use the Gingerbread Man Hot Tub Scrub and also the Gingerbread Girl Foaming Bath and Shower Gel, but I wouldn't really recommend it for the bath unless you don't want a lot of bubbles.  It smells amazing.

Another inexpensive scrub alternative for the bath is the one made by St. Ives with oatmeal and shea butter:

I saw a segment on the news about at home beauty recipes, and they mentioned to add coarse sea salt to cocoa Vaseline for a great scrub.  I really want to try that, sounds great.

Now after a great bath don't forget to moisturize.  I am in love with this Tree Hut Shea Body Butter in Brazilian Nut that I found at Ulta for $7, it is great for cracked heels and rough winter elbows.  Love this scent too (I think there are three, this one is my favorite):

And finally, Lush has some great boxed gifts if you don't mind paying a little extra for the packaging (it ends up being cheaper if you buy the products separately so keep that in mind).  I would recommend this Snow Fairy Gift Set since the snow fairy scent is amazing.  But their gift sets also go on sale after Christmas, I believe 50% off (great value).

So, do you take bubble baths?  Any favorite products to recommend?  Do you like Lush? 

Ps. Some other relaxation posts I am considering are: tea, and books.  Let me know any other ideas.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas Shopping Countdown: 6 Weeks

Need gift ideas?  or just some fun browsing?  
Stay tuned for the next 6 weeks as we countdown to my favorite time of year.

Six Weeks of Shopping to Go:
Rose Gold Boyfriend Style Watches are the latest trend.  
Try one from ASOS ($45)
French Macaroons for the person who has everything.  ($18)

88 Metal Mania Eyeshadow Palette for the makeup lover.  Coastal Scents ($25)

Personalized Stationary Stocking Stuffer from Earth to Girl's Etsy Shop ($4)
Cute handmade headwrap from T4design's Etsy Shop ($14)

Gloves for the iPhone and iTouch lovers in your life.  Amazon ($20)

Classic 14K Gold Hoop Earrings QVC ($110)
Embellished Flats Forever 21 ($23)

What's on your Wish List or Shopping List?