Happy New Year!

Friday, December 31, 2010 | | 12 comments

A couple years ago, my husband and I flew to Chicago to celebrate the New Year! It was a few months before we were married, back when my parents were still my landlords and I got free meals from them everyday. Eric and I asked for a weekend in Chicago for Christmas so his parents bought the plane tickets and my parents bought the hotel. That doesn't sound right, they didn't buy the hotel, they paid for our room at the hotel. Anyway, next to our honeymoon, it was one of the most fun trips we've ever taken. We had such a fabulous time!

This picture was taken our first day in Chicago. We woke up early, grabbed our morning coffee, and headed toward the art museum. Of course, I spilled coffee on my white coat almost right after this picture was taken so on our way to the art museum we stopped into a Walgreens and got a bleach stick. Worked like a charm. I had been to Chicago before and sure enough I kind of remembered how to get around! We tried to use our handy dandy GPS but it turns out it wasn't that handy. My memory was better than that silly device. We had problems with that thing on our honeymoon, too. I think we're just map people.

I'm wearing one of my all-time favorite coats by Bebe. Eric got it for Christmas for me...maybe that same year? I can't remember. I love that I paired it with the red beret. And now I have that "Raspberry Beret" song stuck in my head. Except I've always liked "Raspberry" berets so I can't imagine why there would be one found at a second hand store. Gosh, I am way off topic. Back to what I wore. In case you haven't been to Chicago in the winter, it is really stinkin cold. So the red beret was perfect to keep my ears warm. I also had a black scarf and lots and lots of layers under the coat. I got a TON of compliments in this outfit. People loved the red beret with the white coat. Some even stopped me on the street to tell me that I looked cute (stuff like this never happens to me) and then when I got home and posted the pictures on Facebook, I got even more compliments!! *blush*


New Year's Eve Menu

Thursday, December 30, 2010 | | 12 comments
My family is getting together for New Year's Eve so of course I had to plan the ULTIMATE New Year's Eve Menu. I hope you enjoy these recipes! I'll be posting our lovely meal in 2011!

The ULTIMATE New Year's Eve Menu:



Photo Via






Grandma's Eggnog - Yum!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | | 10 comments

My Grandma makes the BEST Egg Nog! My family just can't get enough of it. This year I documented every step of the process so someday I can recreate it. Unfortunately, like most family recipes passed down from generation to generation, my Grandma doesn't use measurements. She pours until it looks right, adds until it smells right, and sprinkles until it looks right. Someday, I'll capture the recipe and share it will all of you lovely readers. Until then, enjoy these Eggnog recipes:
Recipe Here

Recipe Here
Recipe Here


Guest Post by Kate

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 | | 7 comments
Hey everyone! I'm Kate of Be merry, Kate! I'm absolutely honored to be swapping blogs with Ashley. You can find her over at my blog Be Merry Kate today!



I wanted to share with you one of my new favorite cookie recipes. These cookies are a southern delicacy that I was worried would be impossible to make. They did take a while but they weren't hard at all! You can read up on the history of the cookie here.

Benne Wafers

Via

Serving: 12 dozen
Time: 18 minutes (per tray!)



1 1/2 cups sesame seeds
2 cups flour
1 lb box light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 sticks butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place raw sesame seeds in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 3 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely.


Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cream sugar, butter & eggs until very light, about 5 minutes. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and stir with spatula until combined. (Stirring this manually is impossible, I used the "stir" setting on my mixer and it worked just fine!) Add vanilla. Stir in cool sesame seeds.



Drop batter by 1/2 tsp full onto cookie sheets, 1 inch apart.



Bake until very brown but not burned on edges, about 14-15 minutes. Let cookies cool completely on parchment paper, then peel them away. Store between layers of wax paper in an airtight container. Freeze in tins.



I will warn you, if you only use one cookie sheet, these cookies could take forever to make! With a full bowl of batter making a whole 12 dozen cookies, it may be a good idea to half the recipe if you'd like. I still have a few dozen left - who knows when I'll be able to finish them!

Hope y'all enjoy the cookies! And thanks again to Ashley!

Guest Post by Annie

Monday, December 27, 2010 | | 4 comments
Hi there, A Hasty Life readers!


My name is Annie and I'm the gal behind Wattlebird, a blog about crafting, style, inspiration, and anything creative. Ashley and I are swapping blogs for the day, and since I'm just "meeting" many of you for the first time, I thought I'd do a personal post.

Since the new year is quickly approaching, many of you are probably coming up with a new year's resolution or two, to make 2011 even better than 2010. I'm doing the same, but I always come up with a list of resolutions (overachiever and maybe a little too optimistic sometimes). So here are some of my resolutions for 2011. Maybe they will help inspire some of you or give you some ideas!



Learn New Talents
I'm a big believer in lifetime learning. This year I have two focuses - knitting patterns and embroidery. I've always wanted to learn embroidery, and I've already ordered a kit from Sublime Stitching, so I'm very excited about that! I've been knitting for about 10 years, though, and I still don't know how to read a knitting pattern. This year I'm committed to learning the lingo and I'm going to attempt to write my own patterns.

Focus on Growing my Business
2010 was a pretty life-changing year for me. I graduated from college, tried to find full-time work, found it, decided that I'm better suited for a freelance lifestyle, and started my own business. This year I have lots of plans for expansion - a new online shop, new freelance clients, a blog re-design, and a few partnerships. I'm beyond excited for all the changes!

Take Way More Photos
I made a goal earlier this year to take more photos, and I kept up with it fairly well, but I think there's still room for improvement. My boyfriend got me a new camera for Christmas, so now I just have to keep it with me all the time and actually remember to use it!

Read Way More Books
I absolutely love reading! For awhile this year, I did read every day, but then reading was neglected in favor of other priorities. So this year, I'm going to make sure to read each day, even if it's just a couple of pages at the end of the night. I think things like this are very important for my sanity and overall happiness.

Cook and Bake More
I do enjoy making food, but this year it just didn't seem that important. Going out to eat was much quicker and easier, but way way way more expensive and unhealthy. This year I want to make at least 2 dinners a week (not including things boxed, microwaveable meals), and I want to bake more desserts, just because I love them!

Exercise
I belong to a gym, I really do, but I never go. This year I want to take some new classes (anyone have any suggestions?), take advantage of the pool and sauna, and just be a healthier person in general.

Turn off the TV
Since I work from home, I often find myself sitting in front of the television all day. While I do actually work during this time, I am a certified Netflix addict. This year I want to spend a little less time watching cancelled TV shows and a little more time listening to music and avoiding unnecessary distractions.

Those are just some of the things I want to work on this year. Do you have any New Year's Resolutions that you'd like to share? Leave a comment and let me know!

And if you feel so inclined, hop on over to my blog, Wattlebird, and say hi! It was so nice to "meet" all of you!

30 Days of Truth --> Day Seven

Sunday, December 26, 2010 | | 4 comments
Join me every Sunday for my 30 days of truth. Feel free to join in by answering the prompts in a comment.

Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 → Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 → Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 → Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 → A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 → Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 → (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 → Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 → Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 → Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 → The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 → Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 → What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 → What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 → Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 → A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself

Everyone in my life has made my life worth living for. I think life is always worth living for. My family, especially, has made my life more amazing than I ever could have imagined. To begin with, my parents. Who could ask for more loving, supportive, brilliant, caring, and perfect parents? Gosh I am lucky. My parents did everything for me including keeping their own lives, pursuing their own dreams, and living life to the fullest. My grandparents, too, make my life so wonderful. My Dad's parents were the most in-love couple I'd ever seen. They really taught me how to love unconditionally and how to be happy, more than happy...blissful, together. My mom's parents taught me how to laugh, they were so funny and lighthearted and just plain fun people to be around. My grandmas taught me how to keep on keeping on after the loss of a loved one. Both of them lost their husbands and were so strong through it all. My Dad's brother, his wife, and his family taught me about religion and being genuinely good people. My cousins on that side taught me how to have siblings. ha! My Mom's sister taught me how to stay strong and make the most of every situation. She taught me how to love family and to be artistic. My cousins on that side taught me how to have fun and let loose. Everyone in my family makes life worth living.

My husband, especially, for loving me as much as he does makes every day a better day than the day before. I love him with all of my heart.

Christmas Dress

Friday, December 24, 2010 | | 7 comments

I looooooooved getting a new Christmas Dress every year when I was little. Oh, who am I kidding? I still love getting new Christmas Dresses! In fact, I'm a big proponent of getting new outfits for every holiday or special occasion. Before Thanksgiving, my husband and I went shopping for new Thanksgiving Day outfits. I happened to mention this to my Dad and he thought we were crazy. Who gets new outfits for Turkey Day, he asked? Well, we do. And we would get new outfits for every day if we could. But, money is an object so we just buy new outfits for holidays and special occasions.

Getting back to Christmas Dresses, my Mom would buy me a new Christmas Dress every year. For several years, I got to buy a new Christmas Dress and a new "Christmas Coat" (which was probably just a winter coat but we tended to buy it at the same time as the Christmas Dress and I tended to pick out long fancy red coats with faux fur trim that made it very Christmasy-looking.) I thought my parents were just the coolest ever buying me a new Christmas Coat to match my new Christmas Dress but one year they refused to buy me a new coat. I was confused. They always buy me a Christmas Dress and a Christmas coat every year. Why just a Christmas Dress this year? Well, as it turns out, they were buying me new Christmas Coats because I was growing out of my old coats. Now that I wasn't growing as quickly, I could keep my Christmas Coat from last year. Well, shoot. Darn the luck! If I had know that was what was going on, I would have purchased a more practical Christmas Coat last year that would match several years worth of Christmas Dresses. I was in quite the predicament that year.

This particular Christmas Dress is one of my favorites. It is very English, is it not? I love how most of it is white, with just a few touches of red and green ribbon. My favorite part of the dress is the puckering (there is a name for this kind of puckering and it is escaping me as I write this post...if someone out there can spark my memory, I'd appreciate it!) Anyway, I like the puckering. I also love the collar, the puffy sleeves, and the two little wreaths made of red and green ribbon. I also love how Mom and I styled this dress: simple white tights and black patent leather shoes. I love that my hair is still blond and perfectly styled. I'm even posed like a good little English girl...and then I have that smirk on my face. Of course I couldn't let a single picture go by without showing off my personality. My guess is Dad is behind the camera making goofy faces. Typical.

A Hasty Holiday Party

Thursday, December 23, 2010 | | 7 comments
The Menu:


Recipes:

Guest Post by Caroline - Spinach Ravioli Bake

Hey, y'all! I am Caroline from Simply Smithwick. Today, Ashley and I have switched blogs on you! That's right, I am here and she's over at my blog: Simply Smithwick.


I am so excited! It's the first "switch" I've ever done. I think it's a refreshing way to meet other bloggers and to share new ideas, or recipes in our case.

Today, we're sharing our favorite recipes with all of you. I am a working wife who doesn't have much time for a three course meal each night; so, here's one of my favorite weeknight dinners: Spinach Ravioli Bake. After you check out my recipe, head over to my blog to read Ashley's mouth-watering Red Velvet Cheesecake recipe. Yum!

Spinach Ravioli Bake

Ingredients:
2 cups spaghetti sauce (your choice)
1 package (25 ounces) frozen ravioli of your choice
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese

Directions:
1. Grease a 2-qt. baking dish.
2. Place 1 cup of the spaghetti sauce in greased dish. Top with half of the frozen ravioli (ravioli does not need to be cooked, it can be frozen), mozzarella cheese, spinach and parmesan cheese.
3. Repeat layers until all ingredients have been used.
4. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.


I hope you all enjoy! It's super easy and it's a hit around the Smithwick household. Happy Holidays!

The Trees of Broadway: Columbia, MO

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 | | 7 comments

Guest Post by Sarah - Surprise!

Why Hello There!


Ashley and I have decided to swap blogs for the day and I am so excited to meet all of her readers. You can find Ashley over at The Quirky Designer, my blog, for today!

I am a graphic designer who started her own business after being unable to find a job when I graduated from college in 2009. What started out as a horrible thing has turned out to be a blessing - I'm so proud and thrilled to work for myself every day. I have a line of stationery, wedding invitations, and also design/code websites for business clients.

Fine Art Photo by BucksCountryFrames. Keep reading to find out what that's about! :-)

Ashley and I kept our topics a surprise, and originally I had planned on presenting you with some gift wrap picks since I am such a paper junkie - but after considering it I thought, you know, it's two days before the holiday, and we're all SO stressed out, let's just talk about YOU.

Although the holidays are fantastic - family time, shopping with friends, all kinds of exciting activities - it can be so overwhelming. We cram so much into our days already, and then you throw in all of the holiday madness and your me-time goes pretty much out the window.

My me-time involves a good book and a bowl of popcorn. I am not a big eater (I eat like a bird you could say) EXCEPT when it comes to popcorn. Everyone knows not to mess with me when I have positioned myself in the chair with a blanket, a glass of tea or Coca-Cola, a bowl of popcorn, and my current read. When I was a kid, that's what I did every day when I got home from school.

And now when I do squeeze in some time for me, it feels like reconnecting with my old self - the self before I had four hundred things to do everyday and was super "adult" and "professional." So in the midst of the holiday craze, don't forget that it's really important to stay in touch with yourself as well as reconnecting with your family members. It keeps you sane and makes you more fun to be around when you've had some time to yourself to relax your mind.

So, what do you do for yourself? What's your favorite "me-time" activity? Make a little time for you!


Guest Post by Erikka

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | | 5 comments
Howdy y'all! This is not Ashley today, instead, you got me. I'm Erikka, from over at
The Extra Ordinary where Ashley has posted for today.

Ashley and I are on a blog blind date of sorts - we randomly signed up for the 20 Something Bloggers' blog swap. And...here we are. We knew nothing about each other, our blogs, our writing style. And we weren't even allowed to ask typical blind date questions to see if we even wanted to go through with this blog swap. Instead, we trusted to the almighty powers that be (Scott, the admin guy over at 20 Something Bloggers) and threw caution to the wind. So let me proceed with this year's Blog Swap TOPIC!

drum roll please ...

In the coming new year, what do I plan to do that I've been putting off?

...

Get more organized in my mind. Slowly, over years and years, I've become a more organized person in my physical environments. Now I need to focus on how to transfer that work into my thought processes and mental storage. There seems to be a lot of clutter in my mind. And as the pros say - a cluttered work space does not lead to more productivity! I hear a powerful and effective way of focusing one's mind is to meditate. Every time I've tried to meditate, the practice never sticks with me. Anyone out there have any other ideas? I'm open to trying something new (beyond the task list, to do list, organizer/s, calendars routes).

Well, this has been enjoyable! If Ashley and the 20 Something Bloggers do not vote me off the island for being late in getting this post up, I would definitely try this blog swap blind date again.

Happy trails,
Erikka

Holiday Sparkle and Missouri Wine


A couple weekends ago I was invited to this fabulously chic Missouri Wine event held at The Vault and hosted by @MOWineGirl and @Guavalicious! They had 4 sparkling wines, all made in Missouri and paired with four different cupcakes! Delish! I met so many fabulous women who are either on Twitter or author Blogs (or both!) Thank you so much for inviting me, ladies! I had the best time!

Our goodies (starting at the top left):
1. Inside Columbia Magazine goody bag!
2. Les Bourgeois Sparkling Wine
3. Makes Scents box of goodies
4. Inside Columbia Cheese Kit
5. Patric Chocolate

Guest Post by Danielle - How I Celebrate!

My Holly Jolly Marathon

Today Ashley and I pulled the old switcharoo! I am posting over here while she posts over on my blog, Elleinadspir. It’s always fun to change things up a bit and meet new readers. I am excited to meet all of you, and I hope you will also stop by my site to read Ashley’s great post. She reminded me about the salted caramel hot chocolate that Starbucks has this time of year…wow. I need one!

For my family of three the holidays are a marathon event. It usually all starts the Sunday before Thanksgiving, but this year it started even earlier. My family is spread out all over California and Nevada. Typically we meet up at my parent’s house in Vegas for Thanksgiving. This year instead of meeting on Thanksgiving, we met a few weeks early. This year was filled with a trip to the discovery museum, losts of games, drawing and tons of hugs and cuddles. RBB works retail, so he usually has to skip this trip. Retail sucks. Enough said.

Unlike me, all of RBB’s family lives here in OKC. The Sunday before Thanksgiving we host dinner for RBB’s mom’s side of the family. 14 adults and 4 kiddos. It’s a mad house and is wonderful! Doing it the Sunday before allows us to all relax and enjoy being together. No one has to rush off to see a different side of their family. I have a phobia of cooking an entire bird…probably because the idea of carving it freaks me out. Instead I roast a large turkey breast. Together with all the sides it is plenty and much easier. Best thing I made this year was Pioneer Woman’s Pomegranate Cranberries. I cannot rave enough about them. Yum. This year since Bonham and I were here on Turkey Day, we spent it with RBB’s dad’s side of the family.
Thanksgiving
After the Thanksgiving we run right into Bonham’s birthday. This year was a celebration at Chuck E Cheese. Bonham loved almost all of it. He was freaked out by the big mouse and wanted nothing to do with him. Really, can you blame him!?!? At least we had amazing space cookies to make up for the scary rodent.


Birthday
Next up…Hanukkah. I was raised Jewish, but really, I was a Christmas Tree Jew. Both my parents are Jewish, but my mom felt like a tree and Christmas morning and all that was so fun that we needed to do that too. RBB is not Jewish, so we celebrate both holidays around here. We made Sufganiyot, and lit the candles every night. I try and do small gifts instead of large ones, but I do like Bonham to have something to open every night. This year he surprised me by learning part of the prayer and saying it with me on the last night.


Sufganiyot
Christmas gets stretched out too….we celebrate with RBB’s parents the weekend before. They want some special time opening gifts with their grandson without the extended family around. So we do it early. Then on Christmas Eve we get together with RBB’s mom’s side. We draw names and do a gift exchange for the adults, and all buy gifts for the kiddos. When we get home from that Bonham can open one gift – pajamas that I have washed and wrapped just with a bow. A tradition I borrowed from my sister Jodie. I usually get some for myself and for RBB as well. Christmas morning is just for my family of three. Stockings are all RBB and I do for each other, and one for Bonham. Then 1 or 2 gifts from us and of course one large, unwrapped one from Santa. This year he asked Santa for a race track…and then got it from a friend on his bday. So we had to send an amended letter to Santa. Having a birthday close to Christmas gets tricky. Later Christmas Day we head to celebrate with RBB’s dad’s side. Another gift exchange, more yummy food…..and THE END.



It told you….it’s a month and a half long marathon event around here. Add to that the fact that RBB works 7 days a week since his job is in retail…and well….stress plus celebration. It is a mixed bag of emotions and events…but we make it through. And we enjoy it. I hope all of you have an amazing rest of your holiday season. And thank you so much to Ashley for having me here to describe my holidays!

XO
Danielle
Elleinad Spir

Be Jolly by Golly Blogfest!

Monday, December 20, 2010 | | 25 comments


Enjoy these pictures of my holiday decorations. I love love love decorating for the holidays, but I live in a duplex so we don't do much decorating.






You should definitely try this holiday treat! It is super duper yummy and a definite crowd pleaser! Who doesn't love that delightful mix of sweet and salty?!

Via
Chocolate Pretzels
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Servings: 24

Ingredients:
24 circular pretzels
24 Milk chocolate candy kisses
1 package M&Ms

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Place pretzels on baking sheets. Unwrap candy kisses and place one in the center of each pretzel.
Place in preheated oven 1 to 2 minutes, until kisses melt. Remove from oven and place one M&M in the center of each pretzel. Chill in refrigerator until set.



After the holidays we all deserve a little "pick-me-up." Kick back and enjoy a glass...or two...or three!
Via
 Maple Butter Kiss
 Ingredients
• Ice
• 1 1/2 oz. vodka
• 1/2 oz. DeKuyper Buttershots liqueur or butterscotch schnapps
• 1/4 oz. real maple syrup
• 1 oz. half-and-half
• Fresh-ground nutmeg
Directions
Pour liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and top with fresh-ground nutmeg.


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