Friday, December 18, 2009

Random Ramblings: Noisy Neighbors, Follower Count, and Full Christmas Spirit (finally!)

Dear Upstairs Neighbors...
I understand that you may like bad Texas country music, weird wanna be punk rock, and old school love ballads, but I do not.  I dislike them even more when I hear them blasting through your speakers via our ceiling.  Yep, it's that loud, and I'm that annoyed.  If you want to blast Mariah Carey or J.Simp Christmas music, go ahead, I won't complain then, but until that playlist comes up, please turn down your terrible tunes and give my vibrating ceiling a rest.  Awesome.  Thanks.

Now that that's out of the way...sorry for my not-so-regular and not-so-exciting blog posts lately.  I've been swamped (like everyone else) with finishing my semester and wrapping things for 2009 at both of my jobs.  My creative blog juices have been low.  On top of that, I've been kind of sad to see my followers count slow down lately.  I know this is going to sound weird and slightly pathetic, but I notice every single time I get a new follower.  I instantly notice the one number difference in my follower count, and I run to check out who it is.  (I told you, weird and slightly pathetic.)  So to all my followers, please know that I heart you more than you know!  I noticed the minute we became connected and I did my own little hip hip hooray dance to celebrate.  (I'm not the only one with a hip hip hooray dance am I?)  Literally, getting new followers makes my day, and I haven't had one all week.  Pass the Kleenex please.  (And share some smart and sassy sprinkles with your friends if you feel so inclined!)

In other thrilling news, with my semester wrapped up and my job slowing down, I am finally getting into the Christmas spirit.  (Pause for the hip hip hooray dance.)  I was semi in the spirit before (holiday music, Christmas decor, cinnamon candles, etc.) but to ensure I would actually finish my 19 papers and pass all my classes, I had to force myself to refrain from getting too much in the spirit (baking, shopping, wrapping, gifting, continued know, all those fabulously delightful things we do at Christmas.)  Although, it was hard, and I mean hard, not to allow myself to get into full Christmas mode, it was necessary if I ever want to get these three initials behind my name.  But now that my semester is over and we're a week away from Christmas, the self control is G-O-N-E and I'm in full Christmas elf mode.  I've baked, wrapped, written, decorated, and gifted till wee hours of the morning this week, and I thought I'd share some of my Christmas mode projects with you :)

image by Bakerella
Baking isn't my strongest skill, but I try to play around in the kitchen why I can.  (Perk number 347 to getting married, you get a ton of awesome kitchen gadgets and non necessities that making baking way more fun than you ever thought possible.)  Last week, I made these Brownie Candy Cups from Bakerella for dessert for the guys then took the rest to the office the next day.  (I can barely fit into my Christmas dresses as it is, so I'm trying not to scarf down everything I bake.)  If you love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups you will definitely love these delights! Recipe here.

image by Elise Bauer, Simply Recipes

Peppermint Bark is an easy Christmas bake (it's actually not even a bake since it only goes in the fridge) and always seems to be a fan favorite.  I apparently bought the indestructible candy canes at the store store, so my candy slivers were more like candy chunks, but whatever, it's Christmas, no one's measuring.  A helpful hint via my friend Norma is to use the mini candy canes as they're thinner and easier to break.  Peppermint bark makes a great last minute gift for neighbors, coworkers, or not so close friends and is made in mass production, so one batch goes a long way.  Easy peasy recipe here (and you can use white or regular chocolate.)

image by Bakerella
Last night for our Secret Santa reveal party, I whipped up these little suckers from my go to source for baking, Bakerella.  Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies with a Chocolate Ganache.  (Pause a minute, let it sink in.........Yes, they're as amazing as they sound.)  My best tip: do NOT underestimate the chocolate ganache.  It's the icing on the cake brownies (pun absolutely intended.)  Recipe here.

I also found this Pinwheel recipe from Sarah and it's been a big hit with my taste testers.  It's easy enough for a cooking challenged gal like me, yet advanced enough looking to fool people into thinking my middle name is Martha.  A great party appetizer?  Yes please!  See the recipe here.

I also rushed home from Wednesday night super excited to wrap gifts.  I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about my rules for wrapping, and much to my amusement, my friend Kelsey messaged me asking me proof that I actually wrap my gifts according to the rules.  Oh Kelsey, how you doubt me :)

Every package gets a box, paper, tulle, an embellishment, and a tag.

The tulle and the ornaments hide all the bulges in my wrapping paper.  I never said I was a professional wrapper, just a thoughtful one :)

Last week I got to enter our tiny town's version of a winter wonderland by going ice skating (hip hip hooray dance!)  Every year my job takes our students and student mentors ice skating to help them destress before finals.  Destress it does plus it puts you in the Christmas spirit.  Double whammy!

Matt and I on the ice :)

5'10 me and my tiny little boss.  Oh how I love her!

Since this is Matt and I's first Christmas as husband and wife, I decided we needed a good old family Christmas card, complete with both a letter and a photo.  I debated for a while about doing this, because I thought maybe this type of Christmas card was too "grown up family" (you know, two kids plus dog type of family) but after talking with a few people, I decided, what the heck, who cares?  We've had a great year so why not share it with 104 of our closest friends and family :)

Here's the picture we used.  What do you think?  Likie?  It's one of my absolute faves from our June wedding.  PS: Handaddressing 104 envelopes is not a fun job, no matter how many Christmas candles you have burning or how loud you blast Mariah Carey Christmas.

And of course, through it all, I've been listening to my beloved Nutcracker.  Christmas is not complete with the sounds of the sugar plum fairy :)

I've also been decorating ever so slowly and will hopefully post some pics of that soon (Jessica, your wish is my command!)  My parents and brother are coming for dinner tomorrow night, so a deep clean of our apartment is in order which will surely make for better pics.  So what about you, how are you spending the last several days before Christmas?  Let me know; I'd love to hear!


Norma said...

woo hoo!!! i got a shout out on your blog ;) i feel special =)

i didn't know we could request blog topics...but now that i know, here's my request: post about your first dinner for you fam! im actually really curious to see what you finally decide =)

Paula said...

I definitely notice every time I get a new follower as well :) I love the looks of that peppermint bark. I hadn't thought it might be easy to make!

Oh and your boss looks to be about my height :) Around 4'10"?


Elise said...

Hello Allison,
So glad you like my peppermint bark photo well enough to mention it on your site. I ask that if you do so, you credit the photo with a link back to the recipe on my site at Otherwise you are in violation of my copyright. Thanks in advance for your consideration.

Allison said...

Certainly! I actually found your photo separate from your recipe, so I didn't know you had a recipe (although after looking at your website I see you have a ton of yummy recipes!) The photo was already credited and I have added a link with the recipe. Please let me know if I have done this correctly to give you the credit you deserve!

Torie Jayne said...

Yummy! That peppermint bark looks wonderful!Have a sweet day!

Jenilee Fleetwood said...

I love your blog! All of your baking looks great, and your presents are beautiful. It's all in the details!

Dave and Jenny McIntosh said...

I love it when I make your blog! I feel I should let everyone know that I am 5' 1/4" without shoes according to the doc a few weeks ago. Thanks for sharing your delicious treats this week...hopefully I won't be 5' 1/4" around anytime soon!

Anonymous said...

Oh Allison, you are absolutely darling. You totally read my mind and inspire me more :) I've been a friend of Matt's for years and I totally think we should be friends :)

Stuck in the Sticks said...

I'm impressed! you're the best!