Friday, December 31, 2010

[ happy new year! ]

IT'S HARD TO believe that 2010 is at its end! Despite a few ups and downs, it's been a pretty good year overall with many things to be thankful for. I don't typically make New Year's resolutions but I will make an effort to enjoy the little things, always be kind and appreciate the people around me. If I can do that, 2011 will be a very good year.

So whether you are painting the town red or watching the ball drop on TV, kick up your heels and ring in the New Year with a bang! Have a great weekend and I'll see you next year (aka Monday!)


[via thisisglamorous]

Thursday, December 23, 2010

[ it's almost time ]

WELL IT LOOKS like the big day is just around the corner! Today is a day of last-minute running around and then we'll be traveling to see our families to start the festivities tomorrow.

I'd like to wish all of you a wonderful holiday! It's been a lovely year and I'm truly grateful to have you stopping by and leaving your warm, heartfelt comments - you really put the JOY in my everyday! I hope Santa brings you everything you've been wishing for!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

[ like fluffy snow ]

ANYONE WHO LOVES a white Christmas will love this room as much as I do - it's like fluffy snow with a pale blue sky. I like that this can carry through January too - it doesn't just say "Christmas". So pretty!


[better homes and gardens]

Monday, December 20, 2010

[ a tad british ]

WITH ALL THE reports of cancelled flights in London over the past few days, Britain is definitely in the news. I'm grateful that my guy avoided it by a day and made it here for the holidays!

The Union Jack has been popping up everywhere and if you love those British touches in decor as much as I do, here's some eye candy for you - I particularly like the various subtle ones.


[livingetc; housetohome; idealhome; apartmenttherapy;
flickr; livingetc; homes&gardens; little emma english home;
idealhome; homes&gardens; idealhome; rue mag; tiina blog;
housebeautiful; housetohome]

Friday, December 17, 2010

[ happy weekend! ]

TODAY I'M so happy - my guy is flying back from Dublin for the holidays and so I'm off to pick him up from the airport. I've been counting down the days and feeling like I'm 3, asking "how much longer?" Not long now! Hope your weekend is just as happy!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

[ simply sinful ]

IMAGINE WAKING up on Christmas morning to warm cinnamon buns....mmm...
These buns are pretty easy to make - they're the first thing I ever baked using yeast and if you've never baked with yeast, after you try these you'll wonder why - it's not that scary!

Lisa's sinful cinnamon buns
These easy buns can be made using a bread machine or without. You can assemble them the night before and then just bake them in the morning. Or make them in advance and freeze for a real time-saver. The cream cheese icing makes these so yummy. Makes 12 buns.

what you need:

1 cup warm milk (about 110 degrees F)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast (or 8g packet of dry active yeast if not using bread machine)

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

1 (3oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

how to:

with a bread machine:
Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle, press Start. Proceed to step 2.

without a bread machine (by hand or Kitchenaid):
Heat oven to 200F then turn it off. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and sugar in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes until it gets foamy (use your Kitchenaid bowl if using). Stir in the butter, salt, vanilla and eggs. Add flour a bit at a time and mix. Use dough hook on Kitchenaid to knead about 4 minutes (or knead by hand).

Knead the dough into a ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour or cooking spray. Put in a large bowl, cover with a moist tea towel and let rise in warmed oven about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

2. After the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover again and let rest for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, work together brown sugar, softened butter and cinnamon into a paste (this will help it to adhere to the inside of the bun and not seep out to the bottom of the pan).

3. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with paste.

Roll up dough tightly and cut into 12 buns.

Place buns in a lightly greased 9x13 inch glass baking pan, or 2-9x9 inch square pans. Cover and let rise a bit, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F (180C).

4. Bake buns in preheated oven until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

While buns are baking, make icing by beating together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, icing sugar, vanilla and salt (it may seem too thick but keep beating until it turns silky).

Remove buns from oven and let cool slightly. Spread frosting on warm buns before serving.

if making for breakfast:
After cutting and putting buns into the pan, cover and let sit for about 30 minutes and then cover with plastic wrap and put into the fridge overnight. In the morning, remove from fridge 30 minutes before baking, then bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly and spread with icing.

if freezing:
Unbaked buns freeze well (use 2-8 inch square foil pans and put 6 buns in each pan). The night before baking, remove pan from freezer and put into the fridge. In the morning, they're ready for the oven. Don't worry if they don't look risen enough before baking - they will rise in the oven. Freeze icing in 2 small Ziploc freezer bags and defrost one in the fridge overnight. Spread on warm buns.

Or, freeze baked, iced cinnamon buns. Then you can pop them out of the freezer, put them in the microwave and they'll taste fresh from the oven! Or freeze individually for a single treat. Yum!!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

[ totally wired ]

WITH ALL THE hustle and bustle around here with gifts and wrapping and card writing, I need to reorganize a bit (ok, more than a bit - it's a disaster!). I've always been fond of wire baskets and I love how every one of these little office spaces incorporates wire baskets. Much more charming than those cheap plastic office organizers!

Cute wire baskets aren't always easy to find so if you want to try your hand at transforming an old freezer organizing basket from white plastic-coated to something a bit more chic, you have to see what Tina did at Rubies' Place!


[1, 3, 4 little emma english home; country homes & interiors; cath kidston; rubies' place]

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

[ chewy and yummy! ]

CHRISTMAS BAKING would not be complete around here without peanut butter cookies. So I thought I'd begin my baking with these and if nothing else gets baked, it's all ok. I've tried a lot of peanut butter cookie recipes and this one is finally the perfect combination of crispy edges, chewy middle, enough peanut butter flavour and not too sweet.

Lisa's chewy peanut butter cookies
These cookies are super easy and are the perfect combination of crispy edges and chewy middle. If you use a cookie scoop, you'll get 4 dozen 2 1/2" cookies.

what you need:

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter (crunchy works well!)
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp hot water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs

how to:

Preheat oven to 350F (180C)
Mix together sugars, peanut butter and butter in a large bowl with hand mixer on low. Combine baking soda and hot water and add to the mixture. Mix well.
Mix in the eggs, vanilla and salt. Add the flour and mix until well combined.

Roll into balls or scoop out onto an ungreased (or parchment paper-lined) cookie sheet. Press with fork dipped in water to make criss-cross design. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Don't overbake - remove them when they still look not quite done for good chewiness (they'll be slightly golden brown only around the edges).

Let cool on pan for about 10 minutes and then move them to a rack to cool.

And there you have it! Easy peasy! You really must give these a try - they are full of yumminess!


Monday, December 13, 2010

[ dear Santa ]

HOW WAS your weekend? Mine was snow-filled so it was nice to stay inside all warm and cozy and get all of my wrapping DONE! whew! Now I can focus on other sweet things like baking - well, that's my intention anyway. If I create anything really yummy, I'll be sure to share it with you. Sharing is caring! Happy Monday!


Friday, December 10, 2010

[ happy weekend! ]

SO NOW THAT I have all of my Christmas shopping done, I hope to get all the wrapping done this weekend. I usually choose a theme each year, maybe all white, or kraft/natural or all silver, etc. This year will be a red & white scheme. What about you - do you choose a theme each year?


[style at home; 1,2 unknown, house to home]


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