Category Archives: design

Christmas Cookies: New Additions to the Family

If you follow me on social media and/or are a co-worker or family member (which let’s face it is about 99.9% of my readers), then you know I recently finished up a batch of sugar cookies.

I know what you’re thinking.

We get it Sarah. You bake. Blah. Blah. Blah. 

If that’s what you’re saying in your head right now, you’ll be happy to know I was ‘over them’ about a week ago. Truth is, if I don’t post about them today, we’ll be into the New Year and my sugar cookie-filled jolliness will be overwhelmed by resolutions and complaining about all the new people at the gym.

So in an effort to not repeat myself from year’s past posts about similarly shaped cookies, I’ll simply focus today’s post on the new additions to the Murphy Zalewski Christmas Cookie Family.

Fun fact: Did you know that Matt doesn’t even like these sugar cookies? Each year I end up making alternative batches of cookies and treats each year for him because he prefers a soft cookie to a hard one.

#peoplepleaser

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

This year’s bunch featured some old favorites (see presents and trees) and a few newbies.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

It’s amazing what opportunities open up when you decide to add two new colors to the mix. The trees got trunks, Frosty got a hat and nose and Frosty’s faceless friend Gingerbread George made an appearance.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

In other news I finally discovered that the squiggly portion of the ornament was actually the metal part so they joined the fam again after a few years of being shunned for their awkwardness around the holiday.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

And let’s not forget everyone’s favorite Santa, who got a spray tan and his brows done for the 2016 holiday season.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

In an effort to always improve, I thought this year might be a good time to share how far we’ve come with this particular Christmas cookie family.

Christmas sugar cookies, royal icing, santa christmas cookie, christmas sugar cookies, snowman cookies, ornament cookies, christmas tree cookies, holly cookies, stocking cookies, present cookies, decorating, wilton,

And just like the holiday season, some years your tree is pretty and some years Santa threw back one too many before the annual family photo. The important thing is that you all spent time together.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m off to make a long and unrealistic list of fitness and organizational goals for the coming year. Here’s to giving it the old college try!

Happy New Year!

 

Wedding Snapshots: the details

When it comes to wedding and party photos, I’m a sucker for detail shots. And if you’re a sucker for detail shots then we should be best friends. Which is pretty much what our photographer and I became as soon as I looked at her work and saw that she appreciated the little details just as much as I do.

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There’s just something in the details. Don’t get me wrong, you may not get the same emotion with a detail shot as you do with a candid, but I love the way that the details give you a feel for the entire day. As if the theme (if there is one) is all wrapped up into a pretty little detailed package.

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So without further ado, here are some details from our wedding day taken by the talented Wright Photographs out of Champaign.
zalewski_bk_0031zalewski_bk_0075 zalewski_bk_0113 zalewski_bk_0138 zalewski_bk_0159 zalewski_bk_0333 zalewski_bk_0343 zalewski_bk_0454zalewski_bk_0453zalewski_bk_0455zalewski_bk_0464 zalewski_bk_0466 zalewski_bk_0468 zalewski_bk_0469 zalewski_bk_0470 zalewski_bk_0476 zalewski_bk_0483 zalewski_bk_0508 zalewski_bk_0554 zalewski_bk_0555 zalewski_bk_0558 zalewski_bk_0559 zalewski_bk_0639

Sand Art

Before I begin this post I’d like to issue a disclaimer for my readers to the north.

Disclaimer: this post references 80-degree weather in November but is in no way intended to be a gloat, brag or the like. I braved enough winters in the Midwest to be empathetic during this time. Please accept my apologies for the unseasonably cold spike. Should you consider a trip to visit because of the following photos, I will not deter you. Seriously though. Come see us!

Do you remember when you were little and you would convince your mom, dad or aunt who happened to live in California to spend ridiculous amounts of money on colored sand art you would take home and display proudly next to the rock collection on your shelf?

I do.

And perhaps that’s the reason I took more than 20 photos this weekend of sand. But not just any sand. Sand art sand. The kind of sand art that takes 3 full days and a wee bit of elmer’s glue to complete. Don’t believe me? Check this out.

siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, selfie, gorillasiesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, IMG_8332 IMG_8334 IMG_8335 siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, selfie, igloo siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, selfie, gorilla siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, selfie, gorilla siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, margaritaville siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, margaritaville siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, margaritaville siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, margaritaville siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, margaritaville siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, margaritaville siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, margaritaville siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, margaritaville siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, mermaid siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, margaritaville

 

Sand not your thing? Well if you come visit me I will treat you to a bag of the best mini donuts you’ve ever tasted. Sorry Illinois State Fair. Siesta Key mini donuts have just taken the lead for best donuts to be eaten in full sun while counting how many people you see without their shirts on.

siesta key crystal classic, sand sculptures, sand castles, siesta key beach, crystal classic, florida, vacation, margaritaville

 

Stay warm, Midwest!

Moving Day

Hey there. Me again. Back after a brief hiatus with more photos and fewer words. I promise I’ll be back on a regular schedule once we are all moved in but until then I hope you’ll settle for a photo update of the last few days.

Friday was spent down in Champaign celebrating with family and friends before the 5th running of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon. Technically this year marks the 6th annual race but this was the 5th year of our family running let’s just go with that.

christie clinic illinois marathon, racing, half marathon, champaign, family,

It was so nice to see my Champaign family and to squeeze the little ones before we leave. We were blessed (and cursed) with nice weather throughout the weekend as well, making for a very hot race the next day.

christie clinic illinois marathon, racing, half marathon, champaign, family,

Jake and Owen came over for the youth run on Saturday well-prepared with their under armor superhero shirts. I missed the run but highlights included Jake getting a side stitch approximately 30 seconds into a 1K distance, Owen blazing to the finish and Jake asking the volunteer why he was getting a medal if he didn’t win.

Saturday evening we celebrated our move with some of our closest Chicago friends. I feel very blessed to have had these girls (and guys) in my life over the last 6 years and will miss them so much. It’s so nice to have a bunch of people to look forward to visiting each time we come back though.

chicago going away party, haymarket pub, friends, Chicago

Approximately 4 hours of sleep later we were onto Sunday where we celebrated the upcoming arrival of the first grandchild on Matt’s side. If you can’t tell by the shower colors, it’s a girl.

girls baby shower, tassel garland, candy bar, sweets table, diaper cake, pink baby shower,

5 or so hours of sleep later it was moving day. Chicago sent us off just about the same way it treated us all winter long with gray skies and wet conditions but we made the most of it. We had a bit of a fiasco with our movers last-minute so we called in some family to help us make the trip. Once the truck was packed, Matt and his brother started the trip down and I headed to Springfield to pick up my dad and Finn.

spring weather, chicago moving day, moving truck

I’m not typically one to consider signs but I am now convinced that Bloomington hates me. You may recall I ran into a big winter storm coming through Bloomington a few months back so I guess it’s only fitting to get hit with a tornado warning on my last trip home.

So dad and I hit the road early this morning with the hope of making it to our new home in a day or so. Matt and his brother are of course already nearly there thanks to a few naps and a lot of caffeine.

Next stop, Florida.

florida_home

Showering Baby King

One of my best friends is having a baby!

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower,

If that phrase sounds familiar to you, it should. I’ve been saying it on repeat now for the last two years and probably will for at least another one. Yes, at times it does seem surreal that the girls I transitioned from friendship bracelets to bars with are now in charge of tiny humans, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It melts my heart to be able to celebrate the excitement and joy that comes with becoming a mother for the first time with them. Not that I know specifically what it’s like to become a mother for the first time but I’m excited and joyful nonetheless. Combine that with a cross-country move in a few weeks and I’m probably more hormonal than the mother-to-be.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower, sweets table, cake table, pleated cake, mini tassel garland cake topper, tassel garland,

The good news is I was a little too frantic with the set-up to get emotional before the shower. I was also a little too sidetracked during it to get very many photos of actual people, but I did get a little choked up going through the detail shots afterwards.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower, sweets table, cake table, pleated cake, mini tassel garland cake topper, tassel garland,

I know what you’re thinking. Man this girl is into details. And while I did fall a little hard for my ‘nearly took more time than the big one’ mini tassel cake topper, my reaction is more for the big life changes ahead for my girlfriend than the party details.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower, sweets table, cake table, pleated cake, mini tassel garland cake topper, tassel garland,

Do you ever have those moments where you realize your life is about to change in a huge way? Baby showers, weddings, graduations, first communions and the like bring on those moments for me. There’s often a pause of clarity during the celebration where I look at everyone around me and realize the shift that is happening.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower,

Life is changing. You’re going to be a mom, a wife, a new employee, a grown up who gets to eat that weird host thing that tastes like plastic. You’ve never done this before. It’s nerve-wrecking, but the overwhelming sense of excitement that comes with it makes it all worthwhile. Life is changing and it’s going to be better than it’s ever been.

party_details

Yes, baby showers are cute and Pinterest-friendly.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower, sweets table, cake table, pleated cake, mini tassel garland cake topper, tassel garland,

And guests actually enjoy watching you open gifts because there’s often tiny little outfits among the packages, but my favorite part about any event comes after the tables are broken down and the treat bags are distributed.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower, sweets table, cake table, pleated cake, mini tassel garland cake topper, tassel garland,

It’s after all of that when you realize how lucky you are to have friends and family to support and celebrate you on the journey. And while you may be nervous or excited about what’s to come, you know that each of them are just as excited as you are and can’t wait to share it with you.

gender neutral baby shower, baby king, gray baby shower, sweets table, cake table, pleated cake, mini tassel garland cake topper, tassel garland,

Time flies. Before you know it the little girl you were showering last year is sitting down eating cake right next to you. Life is changing and it’s getting better than ever.

 

 

 

 

Farewell Chicago: Feeling Fortunate

As our moving date approaches, I’m becoming increasingly aware of just how fortunate I am. I guess leaving a place after six years will do that to you. By now most everyone is privy to the big changes on our horizon and as much as I try not to think about saying goodbye just yet, the goodbyes are already being said to me.

sweet home chicago banner, farewell tour of chicago, chicago skyline banner

It’s a good thing, really, to be spoken highly of and told you how much your presence will be missed around the office, neighborhood or nearby Nordstrom Cafe. It’s a really good thing, but it forces to you realize how much of that day-to-day interaction you take for granted.

I’m going to miss the fact that the manager at the Nordstrom Cafe now knows me by first name thanks to my love of half cilantro chicken salads and scones.

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I’m going to miss the friendly waves and the ‘what did Finn eat this week’ my neighbors and I exchange each evening as we walk around the park.

swiss mountain dog puppy, west loop, chicago, mary bartelme park

And I’m going to really miss the association family I’ve built over the past 5 years at NAR. If you think about it, you spend more time with your co-workers than nearly anyone else and I’ve been very lucky to have built a lot of friendships with my co-workers along the way.NAR_group

When I moved to the city, I was so worried about getting caught up in the pack. Of being just another face in the crowd. Little did I know just how small-town this city can feel. In walking Michigan Avenue over the years, I’ve run into college friends, Kelsey Grammar, best friends, baseball players, cousins, country music stars, friends of the family and more furs and plastic surgery botches than I care to count. OK so those celebs are not exactly small-town types but cool nonetheless.

It’s only in saying goodbye that I truly realize how thankful I am for the relationships this city has helped me build.

One coping mechanism I’ve found very helpful is to jam every free moment with social events and time with family and friends up until the night before you leave town. You should try it. I’m off to a great start. Granted, I have yet to pack and don’t have any free time for that in the foreseeable future, but you better believe I’m going to max out on the quality time until we go.

This weekend my parents are coming up to visit and I’m helping to host a baby shower for one of my closest friends. I’ll hopefully have a wrap up post later this weekend but here’s a sneak peek at some of the details. I’ve been itching to do a gender neutral shower after a flurry of boys then girls so I can’t wait to celebrate little baby King!

gender neutral baby shower ideas, chevron, gray and white baby shower, paper straws, tassel garland, bokeh

 

Have a great weekend!

Oh look, more snowflakes

Happy Monday y’all!

I’m in my southern character today, accent and all, in an attempt to escape the cold spell we’re about to get hit with again. I don’t know about you but I’m over the snow. Fortunately, I’m at the tail-end of a rare four-day weekend, so I can’t let another mini polar vortex ruin my day-off spirit.

Speaking of snowflakes, this weekend we celebrated the first birthday of yet another one of my best friend’s daughters with a winter ‘one’derland theme.

grayson_invite

winter onederland birthday party, first birthday party winter theme, hot chocolate bar, cupcakes, birthday party ideas,

If you were reading along last year, we threw a series of baby showers for an influx of little girls coming our way throughout the winter season. Four to be exact. It’s hard to believe they are all turning one already. If you mommas are reading this, you might want to consider another theme for year two as each party has been accompanied by LOTS of snowflakes, both inside and out.

grayson first birthday, winter onederland theme, little girl birthday party ideas

My girlfriend went all out with this theme so Grayson could celebrate her first birthday with 60 of her closest friends and family. Little lady is barely one and she already has a higher attendance record than I do. Both my friend and her husband come from large families so shoe counts like this are not uncommon.

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After lunching on hot dips, chopped salad, mac n’ cheese and baked mostaccioli, guests enjoyed the hot chocolate bar, dozens of cupcakes, cookies, brownies and sweet treats galore.

winter onederland birthday party, first birthday party winter theme, snowman oreos, snowman marshmallows, iced snowflake sugar cookies, birthday party ideas,

In reference to the photo above, you are in fact seeing double. Grayson’s cousins are twins, 16 months old and lightning fast. I was just happy to get them both in the frame.

winter onederland birthday party, first birthday party winter theme, birthday party ideas,

I think it’s safe to say Grayson had a great time at her party. According to her mother she had so much fun that she decided to wake up every 3 hours later that night to see if anyone still wanted to celebrate.

i had a little free time on Friday so I made a batch of snowflake sugar cookies. Completely unnecessary as my friend had plenty of sweets, but they fit in nonetheless.

iced snowflake sugar cookies, royal icing, snowflake sugar cookies, winter wonderland first birthday party, simply social blog

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iced snowflake sugar cookies, royal icing, snowflake sugar cookies, winter wonderland first birthday party, simply social blog

I’m off to get a few more things done before the snow starts again. Have a great week!

Golden Globes and Craft

From the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, California, this is live with Sarah Murphy.

golden globes, simply social blog

Just kidding.

We’re not live. And I’m not in Los Angeles. And that photo is actually from one of my best friend’s weddings. Doesn’t she make a beautiful bride though?

Speaking of beautiful, it feels like California today here in Chicago as we approach 40 degrees. Can you believe it? Pretty soon we’ll be back to laying on the beach, al fresco dining and river boat cruises. It’s amazing how much above zero temps can lift the spirit.

So who watched the Golden Globes last night? I only caught the first half but it was enough time to pick my favorite dresses, get a few laughs in and awkwardly change the channel when Jacqueline Bisset came on stage.

Here are my favorites in no particular order:

golden globe dresses, taylor swift, olivia wilde, Lupita Nyong'o, best dressed, simply social blog

My absolute favorite dress of the night was that of Lupita Nyong’o. Something about her radiant skin against that beautiful red just draws you in. And the cape is just awesome.

And speaking of favorites, a few weeks back I ordered some prints of some of my most-loved Instagram photos. They came in the mail this weekend so I wanted to share the love with you. If you’re into Instagram (most are) and wanted to do something more with the photos in your stream (most do), you need to check out Social Print Studio and Printstagram.

social print studio instagram prints, greater swiss mountain dog photobomb, simply social blog

Don’t mind Finn. He’s so vain. He probably thinks this post is about him. Seriously though. The kid photobombs everything I try to capture.

So I have all these photos electronically, but I wanted to do more with them than just create flipagrams year after year. For $12, you can get 24, 4 inch by 4 inch prints for your use. There’s plenty of other products too but I love that these prints are 1) good quality and 2) large enough to make an impact.

For a while now I’ve been debating about what to hang above my bed. I have a floral canvas up there currently and it’s fine, but I’ve always wanted something a little more personal. I think I’m on the right track with these prints so I’m testing it out for a week or so to see if I like it. Not sure yet whether I will paint the canvas, leave it as-is or go another route.

instagram prints on canvas, DIY bedroom art, photo wall, gallery wall, printstagram, social print studio, simply social blog

I get bored with my home decor so I like to change it up often. I’m hoping that whatever this piece ends up as, I’ll be able to change out the photos to keep it fresh. The stock quality is good on these so I don’t worry about curling edges or them fading over time.

So go get yourself some. And just for full disclosure, aside from them taking my payment and sending me my order (promptly via FedEx, signature required) the Social Print Studio/Printstagram folks had nothing to do with this post. Not that I wouldn’t appreciate getting to try cool new stuff and review it or anything, but that’s not happening here.

What was your favorite moment from the Golden Globes?

Do you do anything with your Instagram photos?

Have you ever won an award? 

Lessons in cookie decorating

Last night I faced a serious dilemma. I had a lot of baking and decorating to do but my back was locked up like Chris Brown during the holiday season. See what I did there? In all seriousness, my back tends to lock up on me if I spend a lot of time standing in my kitchen. I should use this as an excuse so people will cook for me, but I enjoy the process. Long story short, I needed a workout to loosen me up. I know what you’re thinking and yes it’s true, I am 29 going on 75. Fortunately running usually helps with the back issues.

So after Finn and I made our nightly dog park visit where he proceeded to eat every form of snow ball, clod, brick, and poof in sight, I decided to attempt a quick run outside. While my distance is low and my pace is slow, I’m excited to be getting back into a regular running routine. I’ve been religiously rehabbing since the Marathon and after a few test-runs on the treadmill I felt pretty confident I could maneuver the outdoors for a few miles.

It’s been so long since I ran in the cold, I nearly forgot my temperature threshold. As a personal rule, I don’t typically run outside if temps are below 30 degrees. Call me crazy but I’d prefer a 98 degree hot yoga class to nosecicles most nights. But I was in a time-crunch so off I went. It was a few blocks in that I began my internal debate as to whether my temperature threshold was set before or after wind chill. I quickly determined that it was in no way after as a frigid 20 mph wind blasted my face.

It was cold. But the more I ran, the more I remembered how much I love running in the cold. Fresh cold air in your lungs seriously trumps inhaling other gym rats hot sweaty exhales. Great mental picture, huh?

So do yourself a favor and go out and run in the cold. Watch out for black ice and dogs eating snowballs, but go out and run in the cold. And after a few miles, go ahead and stop at your local pet store and pick up a 30-pound bag of food as a final kick. Throw it over your shoulder and try not to fall down as you lug it home. And then, only then are you ready to spend the rest of your night in your kitchen decorating cookies.

dog food workout simply social blog

What does running have to do with cookie decorating besides loosening up your muscles, you might ask? Well, I believe that if you’ve already mentally and physically pushed through a form of exercise in frigid temps, you are more inclined to finish a cookie project that you expect to physically and mentally exhaust you even more so. Tis. The. Season folks.

royal icing christmas sugar cookies, santa cookies, present cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies

It’s been a while since I’ve attempted sugar cookies as they can be a royal pain in the icing. Royal icing can be difficult and time-consuming. My dad loves this type of cookie though so each year for Christmas I attempt to improve my icing skillz without completely losing my sanity.

royal icing tricks christmas tree sugar cookies

I use a basic sugar cookie recipe and follow Wilton’s royal icing instructions. I’ll save you the monotony and just give you a good link to a very talented blogger who is well-versed in icing 101. For this year’s batch I attempted to use her 20 second icing as I didn’t want to spend a ton of time piping and mixing flood icing. I know I’m speaking in cookie language so let’s just look at another picture shall we?

royal icing tricks christmas tree sugar cookies

Since this is a thicker icing, the easiest way to create texture is to ice the cookie in layers as I did above here with what started as Christmas trees and ended as woodland trees.

note: I’m horrible at remembering to get out my camera mid-process so please accept my apologies for my lack of in progress photos. 

Work your way through the various layers and go back and fill in with the second or third color once your first layer has dried.

royal icing christmas sugar cookies, santa cookies, present cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies

For example, with the presents, I did the green bows when I was doing the trees, the white part of the Santa hat along with the candy cane stripes and so on and so forth.

royal icing christmas sugar cookies, santa cookies, present cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies

As I was digging through my cookie cutters, I noticed that my acorn looked an awful lot like a gnome head.

I bet I could make a Santa beard out of that gnome head/acorn

No way is this going to look anything like Santa. 

Huh. This kind of looks like Santa.

And so ends your moment inside my head. When I first decided to attempt a freestyle cookie (i.e. one that doesn’t match it’s intended cookie-cutter purpose) I thought it would be a major fail, perhaps even end up as a Finn cookie. But the more I layered, the more I enjoyed being able to decorate it however I wanted. And so Santa was born, or arrived, or came down the chimney.

royal icing christmas sugar cookies, santa cookies, present cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies

On a side note, the last two days there’s been an elf at my bus stop. Yesterday she was dancing. Today, bawling her eyes out. An elf’s life is tumultuous this time of year. Hug an elf if you get a chance.

Have a very merry Christmas!

In the holiday spirit

Before you start reading go ahead and click that little button above this sentence and join me in grooving to some Brenda Lee on this snowy Monday morning. Oh and try not to picture Kevin McCallister as you listen. If you are any generation near me, or have kids in any generation near me you’ll appreciate this reference. If not, just enjoy the music gosh darn it.

Can you tell I’ve been drinking the holiday kool-aid punch? I hope you have been too. After all, we can’t let a few Black Friday maulings ruin the holiday season for us now can we?

This weekend I finally got a chance to do a little decorating and celebrating for the upcoming holiday. I say little because I’ve made the practical-yet-saddening decision to not get a real Christmas tree this year.

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, puppy

Finn’s photo above sums up my feelings towards the decision.

But in reality, he’s ultimately behind the decision. All 80 pounds of him.

I may still change my mind on the decision.

Don’t worry this isn’t a Lebron-style special on the decision.

I’m just sad because I love little more than to get myself covered in glitter and sap while decorating a real Christmas tree. But there’s just not enough room this year. So instead I decorated my baby tree and turned my bookshelf into a mantle, complete with DIY stockings.

DIY mini stockings, Target, plaid DIY stockings

Did I just throw out the D-I-Y? Don’t break out in hives folks, these are very simple DIY stockings.

DIY mini stockings, Target, plaid DIY stockings

Step one. Get a box.

Just kidding. Step one is to buy those cute mini stockings from Target. Stockings are usually way too pricey for what you are getting (a giant sock) but these are only $3.00 so there’s really no excuse not to buy them.

Step two is as simple as cutting out shapes or letters and gluing them onto your $3.00 stocking. If you don’t feel comfortable free-handing your letters, you could use stickers, felt shapes or buy them while you are Target. Of course they have twine-wrapped letters to go with your mini-stocking. It’s Target!

DIY mini stockings, Target, plaid DIY stockings

Step three. Now here’s where it gets tricky, hang your stockings up.

DIY mini stockings, Target, plaid DIY stockings

But the holidays aren’t just about decorating now are they?

holiday party tablescape, mini christmas tree, holiday punch

Nope. How can we forget the parties.

On Saturday night, one of my former roommates/life partner and friend hosted a holiday dinner for our other former roommates/friends and their now life partners. Are you confused yet?

Christmas tablescape,christmas leggings, Christmas tree

We sipped holiday punch, sat around the fire and had a delicious meal. We don’t get together as much as we used to, so it was really nice to share some laughs. Don’t worry I didn’t wear my Christmas leggings to the party, I just needed another photo to fill the collage. But how sweet are my new reindeer leggings? Surely I will get my money’s worth as it’s not like these are specific to the month of December or anything.

note: I realize this is the longest post ever. Feel free to pause here and come back Wednesday if you need a break. 

Back to the party. I brought a kale, apple and pomegranate salad, the token cranberry salsa and a batch of sweet potato and rosemary biscuits. We didn’t need them of course, but they turned out pretty well for a first-try.

sweet potato rosemary biscuits, savory scones, holiday recipes

I knew when I saw these from Two Peas and their Pod that I had to try them out. We had a few leftover so the next night I re-heated them in the oven and they were even tastier the next day.

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Biscuits

  • 2 1/4 C  flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt (I use kosher)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 TBL fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 6 TBL unsalted butter
  • 1 C diced roasted sweet potatoes
  • 1 C buttermilk

I had a bag of pre-cut sweet potatoes so I just roasted them at 375 degrees for 25 minutes with a little olive oil and rosemary before I made the dough. Once they cooled a bit, I just chopped the potatoes into smaller pieces.

sweet potato rosemary biscuits, savory scones, holiday recipes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line jelly roll pan with silpat.

Whisk flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add fresh garlic and rosemary. Cut butter in with pastry fork or hands. Fold in sweet potato then add buttermilk. You may need a teaspoon more or less depending on how dry your dough is. It should be sticky and not fall apart.

Once dough is combined, flatten into a circle and divide it in two. Cut each half into triangles and place on prepared pan. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden.

sweet potato rosemary biscuits, savory scones, holiday recipes

Now grab your biscuit, pour yourself a glass of holiday punch and jam out to some tunes, ya filthy animal.