Holiday Goodies

So I originally intended to make this post much earlier in the week, but things got in the way.  It was only this morning I realized that my sweet obsessed brother and sister-in-law are coming into town tonight. So I frantically began baking.

I knew I wanted to make something from scratch and peppermint flavored. A few weeks ago, I was browsing on Pinterest and I came across the recipe for chocolate peppermint bark cookies.  I knew I had to make them. Here is the recipe.

They were surprisingly easy! A few adjustments I made: I only used 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter and 3/4 cup of sugar. I also put much less chocolate chips and candy canes than indicated, no white chocolate chips whatsoever and the end result was just the perfect amount of sweetness.

The final product. I used a knife to create swirly designs and cut them in unique shapes.

What are you baking for the holidays?

I wish you and your family a very happy holiday! Have a lovely weekend.

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Sparkly Nails

I wanted to try something festive and different with my nails this holiday season. I went into Ulta (armed with some coupons) and came across Sally Hansen’s Salon Effects. They ran out of the holiday inspired strips, but I picked up these sparkly gold ones instead.

My attempt at creating a new manicure trend..or just being my klutzy self?

They are nail polish strips that you peel and then place on your nails. It comes with a wooden pick (to push back your cuticles) and a nail file to smoothen the strips out. The strips come in different sizes so that they fit each nail.

I felt like it was pretty tedious to put on. But once it was smoothed over, they stayed on pretty well. It is supposed to last for a few weeks and I am hoping it does.

I found it odd that it comes with only 16 strips. So you can only use them on your hands or your feet, not both.

What is on your nails right now? What is your favorite manicure style?

The Christmas Spirit

I know I’ve been neglecting the blog this week, but I’ve been consumed with work and getting things ready for the holidays. I read this news story earlier in the week, which made me so happy. “Secret Santas” all across the country are going to the layaway counters at stores and paying off other peoples’ bills. This has also motivated others to give back in the same manner. It truly shows that kindness has a ripple effect. :)

On a lighter note, here is a funny video courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel asked parents to videotape them giving their children a really awful gift. Some of the reactions are hilarious!

Holiday Cheer

Christmas lights strung inside the house. (The congratulations sign was hung up after my brother proposed to his girlfriend, who is now his wife. I don’t think it’ll ever be taken down.)

I can’t believe 2011 is almost over and that Christmas is nearly here!

I know I’m not in the minority when I say I love this time of year. Christmas lights on every corner, stores decorated, holiday baking, and peppermint mochas. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

What are some of your favorite things related to this time of the year?

The Land of Doctors, Sparkly Vampires, and a lot of Coffee

It’s been a crazy week that has ended in a fun way. I arrived in Seattle last night for a family reunion of sorts.

The view from the Space Needle on a gorgeous Seattle day.

The first Starbucks ever!

In the past few years, I’ve been to Seattle numerous times. On my first visit, we did the touristy things like seeing the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and even the first Starbucks ever (so cool!). But on subsequent visits after that, our meetings have consisted of eating, sleeping, talking, and playing games like Celebrity or Charades. It’s always a blast.

The weather is a bit chilly (for a California girl), but it makes it all the more fun to spend time with my niece and newborn nephew. Although I’m secretly hoping it snows as I’ve never really seen snowfall before.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Treat Yourself

The problem I’ve faced since starting this blog and also following other bloggers (Cupcakes and Cashmere, Matchbook Magazine, Glitter Guide to name a few) is that I want everything they post about.  Not good!

Last year, I bought myself the Amazon Kindle for Christmas and I absolutely love it.

Thanks to my new favorite blogs I have many contenders for this year’s Christmas present to myself. (We are doing a family Secret Santa courtesy of Elfster and I already have that wish list squared away.)

Here they are:

I desperately need a new pair of flats and I love the Tory Burch revas.

Since my current iPhone cover is a white fabric that has gotten dirty, I want to upgrade to this sparkly Kate Spade case.

I am absolutely loving this copy of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre that has been turned into an iPhone charging dock. Such a clever and decorative twist on a practical item. Check out their other designs on Etsy here.

What is on your Christmas wish list?

Also, being that it is the season of giving you can find my favorite gift guides for donations here and here.

Book Review: The Hunger Games

I finally finished the Hunger Games trilogy and it was amazing.

It’s hard to describe what the books are exactly about without giving away the story. The genre is dystopian literature. It reminded me of a mix of The Handmaid’s Tale and Harry Potter. The former because of the dystopian elements and the latter because of the story and the world created by the author, Suzanne Collins.

While the main character, Katniss, did get on my nerves at times it was nice to have a strong, capable female heroine unlike Bella Swan.

A fair warning: the trilogy is highly addictive. Immediately after finishing one book, I just had to buy the next and so on.

The movie based on the first book is releasing next year. I cannot wait, but I hope it doesn’t have the same fate as most books turned into movies do.

Here is the trailer:

Have you read The Hunger Games? What did you think?

May the odds be ever in your favor. 

Holiday Host Gifts

Now that it is officially December 1st, it feels like an appropriate time to talk about all things Christmas related. I was so surprised to see how many stores were decorated for Christmas…in October! But now with a swift change of the calendar, I have fully embraced the holiday spirit.

Many bloggers are posting great gift ideas for family and friends. However, around this time of year come many holiday parties. It always nice to bring something for the host and hostess who have generously invited you over.

I love to bake and make homemade gifts. With these thoughts in mind, here are my ideas for affordable and homemade host gifts for the holidays, with a personal touch:

With every passing Christmas, my love for peppermint grows exponentially. Here is a great recipe that I plan on trying out myself this holiday season! Place the bark in a decorative bag or tin, either of which can be found at Etsy or Target.

Last Christmas, I made holiday cookies and found the holiday cookie cutters in the dollar aisle at Target. If you have a child, or a niece/nephew, have them help you with the decorating. They will love it! Be sure to make a little extra, because after carefully decorating I am sure they will want to eat a few. :) Since the cookies are pretty in itself, they don’t need help in the presentation department. Simply wrap the cookies in some cellophane, tie it with a ribbon, and you are good to go.

Is there a more perfect winter drink than hot chocolate? I think not. Provide your host with all the essentials to make an amazing mug of hot chocolate. You can even cater to your host’s preferences, if you know them well enough. For instance, include pieces of shaved Andes mints for someone who loves mint. (Hint hint :)) Put all the items in a cute jar, add a pretty label, perhaps even a ribbon and hand it over to the host to enjoy!

For those of you that don’t like baking, this is the item for you. All it requires is some assembly but it is still just as thoughtful!

What is your go-to gifts for hosts during the holidays?

(All images courtesy of Pinterest.)