Friday, December 21, 2018

New Year's Card Favorites (Because: Procrastination)

So, there's less than one week until did that happen?!  In years past, I've been so good about ordering and sending cards, but not so much this year.  I was actually having this conversation with my friend; it's surprising how late we are both feeling with everything Christmas-related even though Thanksgiving was so early this year.  There was definitely a lot of procrastinating going on this year.  I am usually the first one to have cards out (here's ours from last year) but still haven't even ordered.  I've even had the best Christmas card photo ready for almost a year from when it snowed in January in Charleston.  Christmas decorations in the snow in South Carolina?!  Yeah, that's not going to happen often.  Oh well, I guess I will be sending New Year's cards this year!  As always, my favorite, Minted has some awesome designs.  Here are my favorites:

Are you a card-sender?
Did you get Christmas cards out on-time this year?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Easy, Homemade Toffee

I absolutely love this recipe.  Yes, it took me two tries the first time I made it to get it right, but now that I have, I swear, it's so easy.  You really just have to look for the right caramel color as you whisk, and the peanut butter trick is the best - more on that below!
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- sprinkles, sliced almonds, or Maldon (flaked) salt for topping

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.  Do not use aluminum foil (it will cause a reaction in the toffee, and it will burn).
2. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt over medium-low heat.
3. Whisk until the butter has melted and the mixture is the color of peanut butter.  My peanut butter trick is to take a jar of peanut butter out of the cabinet, flip it upside down, and compare the caramel and peanut butter as I whisk.  This whisking will take 10-15 minutes.
4. Immediately spread the hot caramel mixture evenly across the wax paper.
5. Melt chocolate and drizzle over the caramel.  Top with nuts, sea salt, or spinkles, if you wish!
6. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for an hour before breaking into pieces.
This stuff is deadly, and I could seriously eat a whole tray.  Our favorite topping is the sea salt - the sweet + salty flavor is amazing.  This stuff will last for about a week (if you don't eat it before then).  On the first day you make it, it will be extremely hard, so I suggest making it a day in advance to soften up just a little bit (don't worry - it'll still be plenty crunchy).

Friday, December 14, 2018

Holiday Gifting Traditions: Stockings

Every year, stockings are always one of my favorite things to open.  Over the last 8 years, Mike and I have brought our family traditions together and always pack our stockings with the same few little gifts: a mix of practical and fun.  We do, however, still alternate between opening the stockings first (as my family did) or last (as his did).  This year, I went all-out on Target for shopping.  They just have the best little gifts.  I'm sharing a bunch of links with you to see what goes into our stockings each year, and what we specifically bought for this Christmas!
Socks - I always struggle with this one, whether to get something practical or cozy.  This year, it's been unseasonably cold in South Carolina, so I went with warm and fuzzy.  I couldn't resist these! How cool are these "12 days of socks," too?

Hot cocoa - I love buying single-serve cocoas to buy a couple different flavors.  These double chocolate and peppermint varieties look so good!  I couldn't find a link to them, but Land O Lakes makes delicious single serve ones, too.

Band aids - This is something I started adding in a few years back: fun band aids.  Yes, we're both in our 30s, but having cool Star Wars or Grinch band aids in the closest is just exciting, okay?!

Gift card - StarbucksNetflix, your favorite fast food, or stick with the stocking theme and go with Target!

Chocolate - My family's stocking tradition has always been a box of chocolate covered cherries, so those always make it in, plus some Ghiradelli.

Tissues - Everyone always needs a go-pack for their car or purse.  It's that time of year!

Koozies - This is a "southern" addition we started to add into our stockings a couple years ago.  Sometimes we grab and save them from places we've traveled to or find holiday-themed ones!

Small toy - This is another one Mike's mom has always had on his list, and as adults, we've had fun with this one.  Anything from those little wooden airplanes to mini Lego sets to games like Uno or Rubik's cubes have made it into the stockings.

Chapstick - For us, this is a real "his and hers" stuffer: he loves the Nivea balm and I love Vaseline lip therapy

and an orange at the toe!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Frosted Sugar Cookies

It's cookie-baking season!  One of my absolute favorite are those big store-bought sugar cookies with the perfect proportion of frosting and cookie (in case you're asking, that's about 50/50 of each).  Last year, I had these cookies for the first time, and both the frosting and cookies are better than anything you can possibly buy.  They taste perfectly buttery, and like almond and vanilla.
Sugar Cookies:
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 1/4 cup all shortening
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Vanilla Buttercream:
- 1/3 cup softened butter
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 drops almond extract
- 3 tablespoons half-and-half
- sprinkles and food coloring, optional
1. Sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer whip butter, shortening, and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy; about 4 minutes.
3. Add in eggs, vanilla, and almond and mix until well combined.
4. With mixer running on medium speed, slowly add in the sifted dry ingredients.
5. Transfer the dough to a plastic container and refrigerate 2 hours.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
7. Scoop dough into 1 tablespoon balls on a greased pan and flatten to 1/2 inch thick.
8. Bake for 9-11 minutes.
9. As cookies cool on a wire rack, combine all frosting ingredients and mix with an electric or hand mixer until light and fluffy.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Christmas Wish List

Happy Friday, friends!  I hope everyone is full into the holiday swing of things.  Decorating our home and spending time with friends (another gift swap party tonight!) has definitely taken over our lives, and this little blog has been taking the hit - haha.  I promise, though, I have a few posts up my sleeve to share over the next couple of weeks with delicious recipes and photos to share from around our home and around downtown Charleston.  

For now, I thought I would start December with one of my favorite things to read on fellow bloggers' pages: wish lists.  
I love seeing what other ladies are asking Santa for this year, and honestly, I get a lot of my own ideas from them.  I tried to mix some practical things like a new crossbody (I've been using the same one for 4+ years) and new makeup brushes (we won't talk about the last time I went shopping in that department...) with some splurges like a Capri Blue candle or (even more) nail polish.

Design Poppiness Designs