Monthly Archives: December 2011

Goodbye 2011, hello 2012!

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I’ve been reading a lot of recaps or 2011 lately, and I thought about doing one on my blog, until I realized that 2011 was very boring for me.
And I liked it that way.

Geoff and I have been together almost six years, and there has be a lot of excitement in those six years, both good and bad. There have been 2 graduations, 2 deaths, 2 weddings, 6 moves, 1 house bought and many other seemingly small, yet significant events. The only thing we’re missing there is a baby (thank goodness that isn’t in the list right now!)

As you can see, going into 2011 I was eager for a quiet year. And quiet year is what I got.

In 2011 we traveled a bit, hosted family a bit, and Geoff started grad school, really the only big thing to happen this year. I got my wish. 2011 was nice and quiet.

If I have to make a wish for 2012, then it’s that we enjoy this year together. I have no idea what 2012 will bring, but every year brings us a little closer to being ready to start a family, and I want to enjoy every minute of time just the two of us before we decide we are ready. So this year, in 2012, I want to enjoy time with my husband, however that plays out. {I’m not saying that 2012 won’t bring a baby, but I’m also not saying it will. I’m simply saying I want to enjoy my husband and the life we’ve built together.}

Happy New Year, all.

Goals for 2012

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I thought that I had a list of goals for 2011, but aside from the house list, I guess I didn’t. That’s OK, because there’s a first time for everything! Here are my goals for 2012. I tried to keep them simple and not give myself too many, because goals can be overwhelming and I wanted to accomplish something! So, without further ado, my goals!

1. Make 13 payments to the mortgage and student loans.

2. Buy new furniture for the family room.

3. Get to my goal weight.

4. Get a promotion at work.

5. Blog (decent posts) regularly.

6. Get off my medication.

7. Participate in the 52 Letter Challenge again (and keep track of the number of letters I write!)

8. Go home for a visit.

9. Take more pictures.

10. Finish my wedding scrapbook! Also, get up-to-date on the day-to-day pictures.

11. Cross stitch 1 stocking.

12. Fully fund our emergency fund (goal: $10,000)

What are your goals for 2012?

MIA

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It’s almost Christmas and I’m so excited!! My sister arrives in 2 days, and work has been insanely busy with the kids off of school, so I am going to be stepping back from the blog for a little bit. I’m assuming most people will be so busy with Christmas traveling and events that blog posts will go unnoticed, so I figure now is as good a time as any to take a break. I may post here and there, but it will probably be sporadic.

See you in the new year!

Brown sugar cookies with browned butter frosting

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Have I ever told you how much I love browned butter? Well, I love it. Browned butter adds to a cookie (or, in the case also frosting) a nice nutty flavor that is different, and gives it substance. It’s amazing. These recipes come from two different places. The frosting is from cooks.com and the cookies are from this wonderful book: America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. I have all three of their books, the cooking book and the healthy cooking book and I love all of them. They are so handy.

Anyway, onto the cookies!
These cookies require browned butter, just like the frosting.

To brown butter (I now know, thanks to America’s Test Kitchen!) melt it in a saucepan, stirring constantly. The butter will foam and, after 3-5 minutes, depending on how high your heat is, it should take on a nice brown color and have a nutty smell.

Roll the dough into balls, roll them into a sugar and brown sugar mixture, and set on the cookie pan. I forgot and thought these cookies were going to be squished, so I started to do that. When I went back to actually reading the recipe, I noticed that they weren’t supposed to be that way, so I decided to experiment:

Here are the flattened cookies…

…and here are the ones that were balled. I preferred the balled ones because they were a little thicker and smaller around. I suppose it’s a personal preference though!

Brown Sugar Cookies


1/4 cup white sugar
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Whisk the sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
Brown 10 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet. Transfer to a large bowl, and add the rest of the butter. Set aside for 15 minutes so the butter melts and the whole thing cools.
Stir the remaining 1 3/4 cups of brown sugar in the melted butter until mixed. Add the egg and egg yolk (I scrambled these separately and then added), vanilla and mix. Add the flour, baking soda and powder and mix until combined.

Roll 2 tablespoons of the dough into balls and roll in the sugar mixture. Place them on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, 10-14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet once halfway through. Remove the baking sheet and let the cookies cool 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.



Browned Butter Frosting

1/3 cup of butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons milk (you can also use cream; I used whole milk)

Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it is browned and giving off a nutty smell. Remove from heat, stir in powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Beat until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.
If, at any time your frosting becomes too stiff to spread (usually if it has been sitting out), just microwave it for 30 seconds.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday.

How to do Christmas on a very tight budget: Play to your strengths

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My other posts in this series are right here.

Today’s tip on doing Christmas on a (very) tight budget is to play to your strengths. The key to saving money on gifts, I think, is homemade, thoughtful gifts. Do you love to sew? There are many many tutorials for things to sew, from clothes to purses, to baby items. If you own a sewing machine this is a great tip. Unfortunately, I’m not a very big sewer so this tip isn’t exactly up my alley.

One thing I do enjoy, however, is very simple projects. In years past I have knitted scarves, and this year I plan to make a pocket scarf (pictures and tutorial to come, when I get my act together!)
However, if I have any strengths, they would be in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking, though I enjoy baking much more. This year I am compiling a book of recipes that I have found online, tried out over the past year and enjoyed. I am including side dishes, main dishes and bakery items in my book. Staples has a really nice presentation binder that I plan on putting my recipes into. I will print the pages off at Staples at a low cost per page, and the whole present will cost less than $10! This is what I consider to be a nice gift, and it will be something a few of my younger family members will be getting, specifically my sister and brother-in-law, another newly married couple.
Playing to your specific strengths will not only make your gift-giving time easier, but it will also mean a little more to the people you are gifting to because it’s something that they know you enjoy, it’s personal and it’s homemade. As always, remember that not everyone wants to receive a personal, homemade gift. Some would much rather have a material object. Use discretion in deciding who to you want to receive your homemade gifts.

How to do Christmas on a (very) tight budget: Stuff Stockings Sparingly

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Before I get started, how much do you love that picture?? Adorable.

I love stockings. They’re one of the few things I love receiving more than I love giving around Christmas time. Unfortunately it’s really easy to go overboard with stockings and spend a lot of money. That’s why you should stuff stockings sparingly.

I don’t mean that you should give people a half-empty stocking! That’s definitely no fun. Not exactly. There are things you can put in a stocking that take up a lot of space, or are useful or consumible. Rather than write this post out, I thought I’d make a list instead of my favorite, yet cheap, stocking stuffers!

  • Candy!
  • Coffee
  • Socks (always useful)
  • Candles
  • Lip balm or fun lipstick
  • Razor cartridges (OK so this isn’t cheap, but they are definitely useful!)
  • A favorite type of cookie (my mom always gives my dad Mint Milanos because he loves them!)
  • Movie tickets
  • Candy-canes filled with M&Ms or other candy
What are your suggestions for a good stocking stuffer?

It’s OK Thursday

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Today I’m linking up with It’s OK Thursday!

It’s OK that I was late to work this morning because I had to get coffee (I had a free drink with my punch card!)

It’s OK that I have almost nothing planned for posts next week. Or the week after. Or the near future.

It’s OK that I made pumpkin bread for my neighbors and promptly put it in my fridge and completely forgot about it 2 weeks ago.

It’s OK that despite the fact that a little kid growled at me yesterday for making him sit out of a game (for not listening) I still love my job.

It’s OK that I’m 28 and couldn’t be more excited about going to Disney Land in January!

It’s OK that I’ve been meaning to link-up to It’s OK Thursdays for several months and only just now got around to doing it!

Now it’s your turn! What’s OK with you today?