Ladies in Navy

Saturday, December 20, 2014

On the Menu: Snickerdoodles

My mom was such a good cook growing up that I didn't have any cookie making traditions myself. Instead we sat around gorging ourselves on her Christmas cookies (mexican wedding cookies, dipped biscotti, and shortbread toffee cookies) which were far more delicious and beautiful than anything my brother and I could have created. Now that my mom has stopped the care-package train and boxes full of amazing baked goods no longer grace my doorstep, I suppose it's up to me to keep up some semblance of cookie making during the Christmas season. 

The other day, sitting at home itching at my hives, I decided I needed a good hour-long distraction from misery and set about making these faux snickerdoodles. Apparently the snickerdoodle specifications are serious - to be a true snickerdoodle, you must use cream of tartar in your recipe. I don't know about you, but I don't keep cream of tartar in my house and don't know where on earth to find it in the grocery store. So I hunted for a while online for a recipe that didn't call for CoT and finally found this Martha Stewart Recipe. I wasn't disappointed. These cookies filled the house with the smell of butter and cinnamon and were warm, fluffy, and perfect for snacking on excessively for the next few days! Recipe below.

You'll need:

2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher or coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

*Recipe makes about 24 cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Mix butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in your electric mixer using the paddle attachment on medium speed until fluffy (~3 minutes). Add in eggs on medium speed until mixed (under a minute). Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually mix in flour mixture. 

Mix cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into 1-2" balls and roll in cinnamon sugar until covered. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and space dough about 3 inches apart (these cookies spread so beware!).

Bake cookies, spinning baking sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, about 12-15 minutes. Let cookies cool on cooling rack. Enjoy with some milk and Christmas cheer!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy Holidays + Neutrogena Giveaway

From our small, and festively attired, family to yours - Happiest Holidays! I cannot believe that Christmas is approaching a week away! My favorite season disappearing before my eyes. Our tree is chock full of presents, all happily wrapped in plaids and golds and kraft paper, red ribbon and bows that the cat keeps gnawing on (likely out of fury about that costume session above). 

We have a few plans between us and some guests for Christmas - we're headed to the Nutcracker tomorrow night after work, one of my most cherished holiday traditions. I love to get dolled up and sip champagne and then watch the gorgeous ballerinas dance! Last year was our first year at the Portland Ballet and it didn't disappoint. This weekend also marks the start of Ben's winter break, so hopefully we'll get out and do something festive like visit Zoo Lights or take a drive to see the Christmas lights in Portland. I'm working through this next holiday week, with just Christmas day off, so I've been taking my lunch breaks to finish Christmas shopping around the city and then frantically wrapping at home. I'm entirely unsure of when I'm going to get a chance to bake some more cookies for guests or clean the house, but if the holidays aren't a time for stressful rushing around then I don't know what is!

Because I've got stocking stuffers and gifts galore on the brain, I have a bit of a late Christmas giveaway (consider it your pre-Christmas entry and post-Christmas win that'll get you set for the New Year in pretty make-up) from one of my awesome partners over the course of 2014 - Neutrogena! Neutrogena's been kind enough to offer you a giveaway of a few of my favorite things: their Tripe Repair Shampoo and Conditioner, Healthy Skin Foundation, Moisture Smooth Color Stick and Hand Cream. They're also throwing in a $50 Walmart gift card to the winner so that they can snag more Neutrogena favorites in store.

I've shared a bit about my Neutrogena beauty routine on the blog and things haven't changed in the last few months. I'm still a die hard fan of the  Moisture Smooth Color Sticks and have converted friends to using the easy-to-apply color sticks for everyday lip color. I've also been using the Healthy Skin Foundation for the past year or so and haven't been tempted to change my foundation! I've found it's the best color match for my skin and helps to also clear up any blemishes before they happen. I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for a new, functional foundation that boasts great color matching!

Be sure to enter the easy giveaway below! It ends on Christmas Day and is open to all U.S. entrants! The randomly selected winner will be emailed by me and have 48 hours to claim their prize.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On Impatience

Top: Ann Taylor (old); Skirt: c/o Chicwish; Heels: Michael Kors

I have many flaws, as we all do, but for the most part I love my flaws. They make me weird and interesting and unique. I don't often sit around wishing them away, or dwelling on how I want to fix them. Flaws have the power drive you to be a better person - my envy sometimes get the better of me but it often pushes me to work harder at what I love. And I see it helping me to constantly strive for more than just the middle of the road. I think that flaws can also have a silver lining - my very high standards for myself and everyone around me can get me into deep trouble, but it also happens to serve as a constant learning experience to give others the same grace I give myself to learn and grow. There is one flaw that I do struggle with on a regular basis (and it's probably a bit ironic that it's a flaw I struggle with) and that's my extreme impatience.

I'm a very impatient person. I don't like waiting for results, for responses, for time to pass. I don't like waiting to get better at a skill - I want to be instantly proficient. When I started my blog, I wanted a perfect design and fantastic photos from day one. I didn't like that there was a learning curve that I couldn't tackle in a day. I don't like waiting for packages to arrive, or for a pair of shoes to come in in my size. I don't like waiting in traffic. I don't like sitting around without a clear and immediate solution. This nagging obsession with instant gratification is enough to drive me mad in holding periods - the time between a raise or promotion, waiting on results from a test/quiz/deadline, the period of time between holidays, and (perhaps most apropos at this time) the time it takes your own body to heal. 

In particular, I think I mentioned I'm dealing with some kind of skin issue right now earlier this week (hives or a rash, whatever it is, it's driving me insane). I find that in times when I am not feeling well, my impatience angrily bubbles up in unproductive ways. If there's anything that halts healing, it's worrying about healing and focusing on the negative instead of the positive outcomes. I'm not sure that I can count the times I've nagged Ben this week - "well what is it?" and "when will it resolve?" and "why isn't this medication working faster?" and "what if it doesn't work?" and "what're my next steps?" Tonight he told me, after my millionth teary, frustrated question this week - "these things take time."

But of course they do. The things that we are often most eager to be done with are the slowest things to come by. To heal (physically or otherwise). To recover from a devastating loss. To become a master at something difficult. And these often become our biggest triumphs - projects that take years to complete, skills that become lifelong hobbies, journeys that take a whole lifetime. I think it's important to remember this whenever possible - that the difficult, uncomfortable, and challenging aspects of our life take time. And we need to give ourselves a bit of leeway on always wanting to jump straight ahead to the finish line. If we don't run the entire race, we won't learn anything about that run and that finish line won't seem quite so sweet.