Thursday, January 10, 2019

My 2019 Goals

Well, it's the 10th and I'm just now getting around to sharing some of my 2019 goals, but hey — every day is a chance for a fresh start, right?!

I love the opportunity that presents itself during the New Year season to celebrate the past and set high hopes for the future. This year, more than any singular BIG goal, I'm hoping to focus my energy on smaller lifestyle habits that I hopefully will adopt for the long haul. I read The Power of Habit last year, and I've become convinced that all BIG goals are achieved by pursuing small, attainable actions.

So, here are some of my (hopefully!) attainable action steps for 2019:

Make time for breakfast
I'm the type of person who genuinely forgets about breakfast a lot. (Unless it's a weekend and "breakfast" means "brunch" — in which case, I never forget). But during the week, I tend to get ready for the day and then just... start working. Sometimes I have a latte for "breakfast" and sometimes I don't eat at all until later in the afternoon. Breakfast sounds like a peaceful meal if I'd make time for it, so I think I'll try that this year.

Try four new recipes each month
I love learning more about food, and the CSA Austin and I joined last year was so good for us. This year, I want to expand on the types of food we make at home. There's nothing wrong with having good standby meals, but I really enjoy following creative recipes and experiencing new flavors together. So, more of that in 2019!

Make $$$ in a garage sale/Insta sale/DePop sale?
Purging some unwanted items has been on my goal list for a while, but I haven't been prioritizing it. When I have free time with opportunities to purge, I tend to decide that time is more worthwhile spent having coffee with a friend or running errands. Maybe this is the year I actually take Marie Kondo's advice rather than just bingeing her show on Netflix. 😆

Less screen time/more time for what matters
A funny fact about me: I am kiiiiinda behind in iPhone technology. By that I mean, I have a 6S that I got a couple years ago, and I haven't updated it for fear the operating system will freak out on me. (It's happened before). I'm planning to upgrade my phone soon and take full advantage of the screen time controls.

In addition to that, Austin and I are aiming to instill "no media Monday" at home this year. Instead of being on our phones or watching TV, the plan is to do literally anything else — go on a date, have a dance party, clean the house, read a book...  You get it! This is the goal I'm most excited about and that I think will make the biggest impact. I'm excited to see how this unfolds!

Do you have any goals for 2019? I'd love to hear 'em. 💕

P.S. Outfit details! I'm obsessed with Everlane right now, so... here ya go: Sweater // Pants // Hat (this is the same one in beige, but I got mine locally from The Market)

Friday, December 21, 2018

Creating New Christmas Traditions

Any newlyweds out there? Austin and I have been married for over a year now, but for the purpose of this post, I'm going to consider us newlyweds. Last year was our first married Christmas (which you can read about here), and it was so special. We embraced double the family time, double the traditions, and double the cheese platters (no complaints here)!

But at the same time, I'd be lying if I didn't say it lacked something of our own. You grow up a child with glittering expectations of Christmas morning — cinnamon rolls, stockings, snuggly blankets, and the house pet following your every move, hoping to get a crumb of said cinnamon roll. And then an adult, you realize each Christmas was so special because your family gave you that gift. The gift of holiday magic! The gift of traditions.

I think traditions can be really special, whether or not they hold a ton of deep meaning. Of course, there are religious traditions surrounding Christmas that I cherish and that become even more special over time. But I truly love the silly "just for fun" traditions too, like ugly sweater contests or cookie decorating parties.

I wrote on Thanksgiving about how my family has a longstanding custom of going to our friends' house to celebrate the holiday; we do it every year, and they have since they were in their 20's. I want to create that type of ritual that Austin and I can look forward to now, while we're in our 20's. Something we can grow with, look forward to, change with us — or maybe it'll simply be there as an anchor for the seasons in which we change. I don't want to wait until we have kids to make Christmas memorable.

So this one's for you if you're a millennial trying to wrangle holiday expectations with a new season of life. I'm with you; I see you. Of course, Christmas never changed. We might have.

This year, I'm going to talk with Austin about what tradition, silly or serious, we'd like to create for our family. Just us! Traditions aren't the glue that holds this season together, but I think they're icing on the sugar cookie.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Hosting a Stress-Free Cookie Decorating Party

Ever want to host a holiday party but then you remember: You'll have to clean the house, buy food, prepare the food, serve the food, hope your guests like the food, clean up any potential messes made and in doing so, pretend like you're not even a little sad your favorite *insert item here* got broken or stained? Don't get me wrong, I love to host people in my home and am happily prepared for all of the above scenarios. But sometimes stress-free is nice! Enter the cookie decorating party.

I really believe a lot of whether hosting is stressful or not is up to you and even who you choose to bring into your home. Recently, I had a cookie decorating party with a few of my friends, and it was so fun. The best part is, making a mess is half the point here! So prepare to snack on some sprinkles and sneak a little frosting; you're certainly invited.

Here are my stress-free cookie decorating party (phew, that's a mouthful!) suggestions:

Like I mentioned, embrace the mess! But I've got a few tips to avoid getting royal icing all over everything. You can put piping bags on a dish when they're not in-use, in case they leak out the top (they likely will). I also had some luck with putting a few colors of icing in plastic condiment bottles, which are surprisingly easy to work with. The only con to some of the plastic bottles is you won't be able to get as fine of detail work from it, depending on the size of the cap. Go simple with decor, and don't over think it! The cookies will add enough visual interest to your table.

Ask all of your guests to bring a certain amount of cookies (for this event with just a few friends, I asked them to bring 12). That way, you're not having to bake a billion cookies, and you'll get more variety in flavors, style and cute cookie cutters! A good way to determine how many cookies to have each pal to bring is to decide what number of decorated cookies you'd like everyone to leave with. Then, ask everyone to bring that number. You can trade around cookies so each person has enough of a fun variety to decorate! It's always a good idea to have another batch on-hand, but this will save you a lot of baking and kitchen time.

In my opinion, wax paper is the best for fielding potential icing explosions. It's easy to use, nonstick and when you're finished, you can just toss it for easy cleanup. I put some paper placemats under the wax paper for this event, but I also think it could be cute to layer wax paper on brown craft paper.

Have some salty snacks and beverages available to help cope with the sugar rush. Cheese is always a good idea, in my opinion. ☺️And... that's about it! 

I hadn't really decorated cookies since I was a kid, and it's SO much more fun when you're an adult with better fine motor skills, ha! It's also super inspiring if your friends are as artistic as mine.

Most of the cookies in these photos were decorated by Kelsey Baldwin, who you can read more about here. (She's amazing!)

P.S. I wouldn't say I'm an expert on royal icing cookies, but I used this recipe for my sugar cookies and this one for my icing. I had to add quite a bit of water to the icing recipe to get it to be the right texture.