Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My first cookie exchange!

It's been forever (and a year) or so it feels! Part of my resolution for this year is to blog more. So, here I am attempting to do so! We'll see how well I do with this..

Anyways, let's cut to the chase! I've been extremely busy and it seems as if so much has changed since I last wrote! I'll split the catch-ups into different posts so it doesn't become too overwhelming to read.

This post will be dedicated to talking about my FIRST ever cookie exchange. When my team proposed the idea back in October, I immediately took to Pinterest and began pinning! I knew I wanted to make a cookie that not only looked delicious, but tasted it as well. (My lucky roommate had the job of Official Taste-Tester). There were so many amazing recipes, I couldn't hardly contain my excitement! Pin, pin, pin (I swear, I should work for Pinterest! After all, it's been an integral part of my life for 2 years now, and I've turned many people onto it!) Whew, tangent. Bring it back. K. I decided I needed a cookie that fit the prior criteria, but one that was also called fairly inexpensive ingredients and yielded a large number (7 1/2 dozen to be exact). I know, 90 cookies sounds like a lot! The way we did it, was, we divided the number of cookies by the amount of people attending-each person would take home one 1/2 dozen cookies per person in attendance. We had 15 people.

After many months of searching, I had narrowed it down to 2. Now, I can't spoil it and tell you what the other cookie choice was, in case I decide to make them next year! (Ok, maybe ill tell you later).

Pinwheel Christmas Cookies were the winners! Then I got to thinking: Christmas..I need peppermint! Peppermint Pinwheel Christmas Cookies! Totally thought I'd made that up, genius that I am (not), but I searched and found! Easy peasy! Well, the. I decided that I wanted my cookies rimmed with sprinkles. Hm. Recipe, do you exist? Why, yes, it did! Glad great minds think alike. I actually combined 2 recipes. This one, and this technique for adding the sprinkles.

Let's cut to the chase. The first batch was a DISASTER! I've never made sugar cookies before and was unaware of how sticky the dough was. *pause-I just ended my elliptical session-goes by super fast when you multitask!*

Ok, so the disaster..super sticky dough. Not good. Needed a lot of flour to rectify the problem, which I was sure would then alter the taste. I decided to bake them anyways, hoping for the best. They didn't bake up too badly, but were super small and slightly burnt at the bottom-turning the pretty green color a poopish green color. Chucked those. Tried again. This time, I searched for a new recipe. To my surprise, this recipe was accompanied by a fabulous tutorial! I watched, watched, and watched again. I was determined to master these cookies.

Poof! Success! The first batch turned out magnificently. Into the second (and final). Oops. I accidentally spilled the peppermint extract into the dough. Oh well. It didn't affect the taste too much. They did taste very pepperminty, though.

Here's the finished product!

I'll post the links to the recipes and tutorial later tonight! I'm blogging from my phone :)


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hooray, Happy Wednesday!

We have the day off today, as many are celebrating Yom Kippur. I've spent most of the day running to and fro between appointments. I am one that creates lists, and it felt SO wonderful to have been able to check off 3 major things on that list that have been looming over my head: 1.) (the dreaded) MVA to switch for NYS tags to MD, 2.) the doctor's (just a physical, not to worry), 3.) apartment complex parking pass (because, if you don't have one, they will tow your car and it'll cost you $160--sad day). Needless to say, it feels GREAT to have these 3 things accomplished! Now, onto knocking off the other numbers so that I can feel good about that, too! 

So, what am I doing on my day off besides running errands? Well, I had every intention of going to Barnes & Noble to get some work done, but, I decided to bake instead (which then made me want to blog), so I did both! Here's some evidence..

Starving, yet? Haha. As I was baking these, I couldn't help but wish to be able to bottle up the delicious cinnamon raisin scent moving through the kitchen. Instead, I decided to settle with burning my current favorite candle: Spiced Cider, from Bath & Body Works. They had their fantastic 2 for $20 3 wick candle sale-which is about the only time I allow myself to indulge and purchase. (I do the same at Victoria's Secret-only purchasing when they have their 7 for $26 sale). I just bought this delicious smelling candle about 2 weeks ago, and it's almost completely used! Off to B&B to purchase more while the sale still lasts! 

Maybe, soon, I'll post some teacher-created Special Education resources that I've been working so hard on. They have taken me FOREVER to complete, but, I just keep telling myself how much easier it'll make life by having them to reference throughout the year. Coming soon! Stay tuned :) 


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Baking up a storm..

As the smell of freshly baked Red Velvet cupcakes (recipe courtesy of the one and only, Skinnytaste) wafts through my apartment, I feel compelled to blogagain. I’m off from work until Monday, so, I figured I’d take all of the time that I have to enjoy being off, and actually do the crafting/baking/blogging that I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time.

I’m baking in preparation for my 26th birthday celebration this Saturday, which I’ve strategically planned the menu for. It consists of: Southwestern Black Bean Salad served with Baked Scoops Chips for an appetizer, Spinach Lasagna Rolls with Rosemary Garlic Parmesan Biscuits and a side salad, and for dessert, an assortment of mini red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and red velvet cupcakes with chocolate glaze. Mmmm, my mouth is honestly watering while typing (and now my stomach is grumbling, haha). Everything is even already made! I froze the lasagna rolls and the biscuits, and am letting the Black Bean salad marinate for a few days, because many said it gets even better after it marinates a while! Clearly, I’m super excited about this! So, I figure, while we are eating the delicious appetizer, I’ll have the lasagna and biscuits baking in the oven, and while that’s happening, we’ll let the games (literally) begin! I’ve planned to have a murder mystery dinner nighthence the chosen menu. The murder mystery theme is called Pasta, Pistols, and Passion. I chose the low-fat lasagna dish as opposed to a higher calorie one so that we could indulge in everything else that’s on the menu without feeling too guilty about doing so! I really think we’re going to have a blast! I can’t wait!

I will certainly be taking pictures of the entire spread on Saturday! Yippee!

Ironically enough, after having written this post primarily about food, I’m off to the gym! Later, loves!




Being that it's not yet the start of the school year, I figured I'd continue posting some personal things, prior to blogging about teacher-related things. This post is going to depict the recent developments that have come about recently. The first, which will lead to the others, is my weight loss. I believe my weight topped an all-time high of 150 lbs. about a year ago. Why, you ask? Something I like to call “happy fat.” I was at a point in my life where I had not a care in the world about what I looked like, but was primarily concerned with keeping my spirits high as often as I could, and food was what I looked forward to. I had just moved to Binghamton, NY to pursue my Masters in Special Education, and I was sad being away from home and my family, so I had to find things to look forward to during the day to fill the void. Clearly, I turned to food. Prior to moving, I never cooked, and anything that I tried to make was seemingly inedible. Gross, yeah! I had two recipes under my belt, which I would repeat from time to time, but let’s be honest here, one will get sick of the repetition of two items after some time. So, I experimented and found that as long as I follow a recipe to a T, I actually CAN cook, and am not so terrible at it after all. I made things, and enjoyed eating them, as well as making things for others and watching them enjoy it too. I also loved pizza and dining out, a little too much. I did not care what I atedidn’t feel guilty in the least for indulging every long as I was happy. What I realized, though, was that I wasn’t. In the back of my mind, I knew that I was gaining weight, and it just didn’t look good. I’m 5’2so, needless to say150 lbs did not look great on me. I have a small frame but am curvy, so I was able to hide it a little, but it was easy to see that the weight just didn’t sit right on me, I am built to be smaller.

So, that brings me to todayafter finishing my Masters, I moved back home, and landed a job shortly after in Maryland. Again, attempting to fill the void by having little things to look forward to like good eats on a daily basis, the weight situation did not change. It wasn’t until I joined a local dance team, and became slightly more comfortable with my current living situation, that I was able to take control. With the help of many, I began my weight loss journeywhich is very difficult (and extremely trying at times). To date, I’ve lost about 40 lbs. I began by exploring Skinnytaste, and being that I desperately wanted to continue my cooking journey, I figured what better way to do so than to explore a healthy eating cooking blog! It was is wonderful! I continue to cook from her blog on a daily basis. It’s honestly how I incorporate nutrition into my diet. Her meals are extremely well-rounded, taste great, and you would honestly never know that they were healthy! I still feel like I’m indulging, sans the guilt! It’s spectacular!

One thing I had to learn the hard way was that dieting and eating right would not make me lose weight by itself, and that I actually needed to couple it with exercise. I hate hated exercising. I told myself, as long as I keep dance up twice a week, that could work as my exercise, that would be good enough. Mm, not so much. I was losing weight, but not as quickly or as easily as I should’ve/could’ve been. So, I joined a gym (Gold’s gymbecause even though it was more expensive, they had classes, and it would most likely get my butt to the gym more-so than being disciplined enough to get myself there on my own and sustain a workout on the machines for an hour.) To date, I have not yet taken 1 class, and have actually ONLY done the machines and weightsyes, this makes me proud! I never thought I’d be able to do something like this! I now go to the gym 6 days a week, following a body building blog (no, my goal is not to be a body builder, ha) for proper fitness regimens and weight usage, which I adapt to fit my needs. I eat “clean” and healthy, but it has been extremely hard. Not because I am not disciplined enough, I am, more than I ever thought I would/could be. It’s hard because of what others say. There’s a line in one of Kelly Clarkson’s songs that goes something like this (because she has struggled with her weight too, as I’m sure all of you know), “If you’re thin, poor little walking disease- if you’re not, they’re all screaming ‘obese’.” I have found that quote to be true, now, more than ever. I know people are genuinely worried about me because, no, they’ve never seen me at this weightbut what they don’t understand is that I’m HEALTHY! I might not eat what they think I shouldburgers, macaroni and cheese, pizza, chicken wings, loaded fries (etc.)which yesI used to eat on a daily basis beforebut I’m healthy, and my diet reflects that. I’m strict, extremely strict, but I don’t restrict myself unbearably. I have fully recognized that my diet is not a diet, it’s actually a lifestyle change, which is something someone said to me long ago, when I asked them for their weight loss secret. It’s something that has resonated in my mind since. I’ve always said to myself, I’m young, it’ll be so much easier to lose the weight now, and then easier to maintain when I’m older if I just could get it off now. I’m in my prime, and why not look good while I’m in it?! Well, I finally decided to do something about it. I’m happy, but my friends aren’t. They are worried, and constantly making comments about my not eating (crap food). I eat! I love to eat! Heck, I look forward to my meals, and with the help of Skinnytaste, I can enjoy most of the foods that I used to, without the guilt!

My next journey is to figure out how to maintain my eating healthy while making my friends happy. I’m the type of person that tries to make everyone happy, because if they’re happy, I’m happy. I tend to put my happiness by the wayside, and focus primarily on theirs, which is making this journey extremely trying and difficult, because this is something I just don’t want to waver on, even though I know it will make them happy. For once, I’m focusing on myself, and my ultimate happiness. It’s a struggle, and I’m sure it will continue to be for quite some time. Thankfully, I have my parents’ unwavering support. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have them cheering me on, standing beside me, supporting me, and even joining me in my weight loss journey. So, cheers to weight loss, and to happinessmy happiness, ha!

Here's a picture taken while I was at Binghamton almost 2 years ago (left) and one taken this June (right).

I'll be taking another updated picture soon, because since following that body building blog, I've actually gained a teensy bit of muscle, too! Yippee!

That's all for now! Thanks for reading!


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hello, lovelies! As my day is winding down, I’m glad to finally be home, in bed. Today was quite the (unanticipated) busy day. I started out fairly early for a non-work day (10 a.m.-yeah, not so early, huh?) I grabbed a quick bowl of Special K Red Berries (mm, my fav!) and made some Godiva Chocolatier Hazelnut coffee, then quickly dressed into my workout clothes and ran to the gym to meet my cousin for a quick a.m. workout. After that, we went to Starbucks and quickly viewed her beautiful wedding photos she recently received back from her amazing photographer (Rothwell Photography in D.C.) Check them out, they are amazingyou won’t be disappointed, I assure you. After we left, I took a quick shower and was off and running again-had to tutor an incoming third grader. Right from her house, I was on the road to meet a friend at an Irish Pub about an hour away in Winchester, MD-which was equidistant for both of us, being that he lives in York, PA. We later found out that Baltimore (Inner Harbor) would have also been equidistant, so we mutually decided that that would be our meeting spot, next time. We also mentioned possibly going to the National Aquarium, which I’m psyched about! Anyways, I’m just now getting home from my adventures today, and decided a great way to wind down, would be to blog.

I’ve been doing a bit of crafting lately, and am highly considering starting an Etsy shop to sell my wine bottle lights. Unfortunately, the pictures that I’ve taken of the few bottles that I’ve made recently don’t have the lights included inside of them yet, because no stores in the area actually sell Christmas lights during this time of year. I happened to randomly think of calling Christmas Tree Shop to see if they sold Christmas lights, and I thankfully found that they do, but unfortunately there aren’t any shops in the surrounding areabummer! Here are a few pictures of the wine bottles that I’ve made thus far. You might just have to use your imagination and pretend that there are pretty lights inside.

The top photo has purple glass beads with twine wrapped around the tip of the bottle, whereas the bottom bottle has gold/brown glass beads, original gold wrapping, and a twine bow at the top. The bottles are also different shapes, the bottom is more slim and narrow than the top. My hopes are that I can make the bottles fully customizable, to fit the specific client's wants/needs. Choices will range from bottle shape, embellishments such as bead color, twine, twine bow, leaves, cork/no cork, and twirly twigs. These wine bottle lights make a great gift, and will be sent in wine bottle boxes for shipping and gifting. Hopefully, people will enjoy these as much as I do! They honestly go great with any kitchen decor!

That's all for now, I suppose! Till tomorrow!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Hey everyone! The week flew by rather quickly, but went rather well! On Monday night, I had the amazing opportunity to meet one of my favorite authors, Emily Giffin! She was everything I had hoped she would be, and more! She was absolutely adorable and so hilarious. I arrived at the book signing 2 hours early and was actually the first person there (that’s honestly the first time that I’ve EVER been the first person to arrive at an event like that), but being early definitely paid off. Emily was super cute and even took pictures of US! AND she put them on her Facebook page! So stinkin cute! Of course I’ll be posting those photos here for you to see, as well. I can’t wait to go to more book signings in the future. This one came about, really, by happenstance. I was actually walking around Bethesda with my boyfriend about a month ago, and we walked by Barnes & Noble. As we were walking, I noticed a sign that mentioned that Emily would be doing a book signing there. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I couldn’t believe that the book signing was a.) happening with one of my most favorite authors, and b.) happening so close to where I lived (only 25 minutes away)! I was PSYCHED! Now I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for future visits and signings by my other favorite authors: Janet Evanovich and Nicholas Sparks. If David Catrow just so happen to grace me with his presence at one of the schools any time soon, that would also be amazing and spectacular! Side note: I really wanted to mention to Emily that if she by chance ever needed a nanny or personal assistant, I’d totally be her girl..but..I chickened out. Maybe next time.

The top picture is one that Emily took while standing on a chair (I'm 2nd from the right-front row-my cousin is to my left). The bottom right picture is another one that Emily took-a girl in the crowd bought her a cupcake from Georgetown cupcakes, which was right down the road (they have a shop in Bethesda). 

Last, but not least, I need to show you this hilarious picture. Emily took this one too, but I doubt she noticed my cousin's face in the background... 

I know what you're thinking..that Linds looks completely disgusted by something! That honestly wasn't the case, haha, which makes it even more hilarious, in my opinion. Linds was merely admiring Emily's wedding rings (which were breathtakingly beautiful). My expression isn't nearly as noteworthy as hers, ha!

That’s all for now. I’ll be back later for more, I’m sure!