September 26, 2016

Moon and Stars Sugar Cookies

As promised, I'm sharing the recipe and icing how-to for the Moon and Stars Sugar Cookies from the Moon and Stars Baby Shower post.  One of my favorite blogs I follow is Everyday Occasions.  Jenny has quite the knack for entertaining and hosting and each season she shares charming seasonal cookies she and her daughter Emma have decorated.  I thought I would try my hand at baking and give her sugar cookies and royal icing a whirl.  They were a hit- literally.  Zero left over.  I asked for my family's honest feedback and they LOVED them.

I tested this recipe out about 6 weeks prior to the shower since I knew I would be baking them in New Jersey and transporting them to Richmond.  They stayed fresh for a whole week!  I was glad I made the test batch because it honestly helped so much with my week-of prep timeline.

Since I knew they would stay fresh for a week, I made the dough on Tuesday night.  The recipe says to place in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes, but I wrapped it and let it chill until Wednesday.  Wednesday, exactly 24 hours later, I unwrapped and rolled out the dough.  The key is to roll it out thin- about 1/4" so they don't spread and lose their shape while baking.

The recipe + my size cookie cutters made 5 dozen cookies.

Then on Thursday after work I made the icing and decorated them.  I have to give all of the credit to Jenny for this one- the recipes and icing colors amounts.  I used her guide for The Perfect Powder Blue for the stars and The Perfect Baby Chick Yellow for the moons.  The color was made with Williams-Sonoma's Food Decorating Paste and an edible marker from Michael's for the faces.

I improvised and set the pastry bag in a pint glass to hold it upright while I scraped the icing from the
Kitchen Aid bowl since I didn't have a second set of hands.  It worked great!


Crate and Barrel Lawrence Platter (no longer available but you can find the Lawrence Serving Tray)

September 25, 2016

Moon and Stars Baby Shower

Sorry for being absent these last few days- I was busy with last minute shower details :)  This past weekend was spent at home in Richmond, showering my sister at her baby shower.  Many of my friends have had children but this shower was extra special to me, not only because it was for my sister but because I am going to be a first time AUNT!

Wanting to add a personal touch to my sister's shower, I created the invitations, raffle cards, and water bottle labels.  I utilized a third party printer my company uses and she was gracious enough to print them as a gift!  The invitations and raffle cards are printed on 100 pound gloss cover card stock in white.  The water bottle labels are on a waterproof adhesive.  Below is the branding color palate I created for this fun project.
Everything turned out perfectly.  We had right at 40 guests attend, making it memorable for Kristen and Chris.  Baby Eli is already loved by so many.  Just about 7 more weeks until he makes his debut.  (I cannot wait to meet him!)

My mom did a wonderful job with the cake design.  It is Ukrop's Bakery, for all of you Richmonders!

Moon and Stars Sugar Cookies - recipe and more pictures here.

I specifically wanted these light blue hydrangeas with subtle light green (almost yellow) centers.  I knew they would add a nice touch to the shower and tie in perfectly with the color scheme.  There are also quite a few meanings for the hydrangea- my favorite being heartfelt emotion- appropriate for a baby shower.  We had 12 vases placed throughout the room.

Baby pictures of Kristen and Chris.  I loved this DIY frame they made for the shower.  They bought the frame and secured the twine on the back.  My sister printed their baby pictures on these cute Polaroid pictures from an app!

Wish Tree, made by one of Kristen's friends.

This little baby is so loved!

The proud parents :)
Don't she look amazing at 33 weeks?!

My outfit details: Lilly Pulitzer Marlowe Dress (in Bay Blue), J.Crew Petal Gems Necklace (no longer available),

September 20, 2016

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know it's bold to claim "the best" but they are honestly the best I've ever made.  Mike agreed, my coworkers agreed, and I agreed, so there you have it- the consensus is in!  It's probably because this is Ina Garten's recipe and we know her recipes don't disappoint.

Recipe makes 3-4 dozen depending on what size you drop the dough.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F.
  2. Using your KitchenAid with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars until consistency is light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking soda and add to the butter mixture with the mixer on low speed, mixing only until combined.  Fold in the chocolate.
  4. Place dough in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes.
  5. Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Place dough back in the refrigerator each time to chill between baking sessions.
  6. Bake for exactly 12 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

*Original recipe is linked.  Recipe + my variation is typed above.

September 16, 2016

What to Pack for Race Day

Tomorrow I'll be heading down to Philadelphia for the Rock n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon to run my 11th half marathon on Sunday.  Within the last 12 months, I've found myself choosing 1-2 destination races a year because it gives me an opportunity to see a new city and make a mini vacation out of it.  Knowing I have only a few days to explore forces me to narrow my itinerary down to the best dining, shopping, and sightseeing (and I haven't been disappointed yet!)  To see more of my Nashville Rock n Roll Half Marathon trip, click here.

Below is a list of what I pack for race day that I can't live without.
  • Oatmeal and a banana - I prefer to measure out my own travel pack instead of buying the prepackaged kind (complete with a spoonful of brown sugar).  I have found that the Original Old Fashioned Oats keep my energy level steady longer than the instant oatmeal packs.  I also bring a serving size of almond milk and a disposable bowl and spoon- it's just easier than trying to track one down at the hotel (speaking from personal experience, of course.)
  • Sunscreen - My dermatologist gave me this sample size of SPF 100 sunscreen.  It has been great to throw in my zip pouch, knowing I'll be exposed to sun* for a couple of hours.  (*Being optimistic that it won't rain on race day!)
  • Body Glide - The chafe is real. And it is painful. Apply liberally!
  • Ibuprofen - I like to pack just in case.
  • Monogram Zip Pouch - My boss gifted this to me last Christmas. It is perfect for keeping all of my little items together in one place so I'm not searching for it race day morning. You can find on Etsy.
  • Shot Bloks - I've tried a few brands on the market and Clif Shot Bloks have worked best for me.  Strawberry is my favorite.
  • Wipes - I discovered Revive Body Cloths when they arrived in my Tone It Up Motivational Mail package. Now I'm hooked and use these on my face after every run.
  • Hat - A necessity no matter what the race day forecast is.
  • Balega Socks - I swear by these. The Endure No Show is my go to. I haven't tried anything better. They are about $14/pair and have good cushion to prevent achy feet and blisters while running.
  • Compression Socks - Pro Compression socks are great to wear to help with muscle soreness by increasing blood flow.

If rain is predicted:
  • I pack a trash bag to stay dry while waiting at the starting line.
  • I braid my hair so it doesn't end up in a tangled rat's nest.
  • Dry clothes to put in my checked bag to change into post run.

I also plan to buy these Oofos Recovery Sandals when I am in Richmond the next weekend.  I tried them on when I was at the Fleet Feet Short Pump store and have decided these are probably going to be a necessity as my marathon training mileage increases.


September 14, 2016

4 Quick and Healthy Breakfasts

As things are starting up again (back to school, activities, projects...) we tend to be a little more busy than we were during the easy pace of summer.  Today, I'm sharing a few of my favorite breakfasts that are quick and healthy- perfect for those mornings when you're rushing out of the door!

Greek Yogurt with Fresh Fruit
I use fruit that is in season and also like to add granola. (Bear Naked and KIND are my favorites.)

Oatmeal with Almond Milk
This is my go-to every Saturday morning before a long run (always!) and on those chilly fall/winter mornings. It is also a great allergy free option for those who are GF and DF. (I am neither but try to be conscious of how much gluten I consume.)

Eggs with Feta and Spinach
You can whip these up in 5 minutes... seriously! The same amount of time it would take to cut fruit for your yogurt or waiting for your oatmeal to cook. It is a high protein breakfast which will keep you full a little longer.

Honey Nut Cheerios with Almond Milk
Another great GF and DF breakfast and my go-to when I am in a hurry.

You can find my other breakfast recipes here

September 12, 2016

Desk Accessories for Back to School

With everyone in back to school mode, I wanted to play along and share my desk and favorite accessories.  I've had this desk since 2008-- when I moved into my first college apartment going into junior year.  That summer I worked as a teller and saved up specifically for this desk, chair, chair cushion and matching bookcase (not pictured) from Crate and Barrel.  It is now discontinued but is the Windham Writing Desk collection.

As much as I hate dusting, I do love my black furniture, so it's worth the extra effort.  I feel it's a timeless piece and can be dressed up with classic accessories, like brass.

I purchased this Emily Ley Simplified Planner back in July, after rave reviews from some of my fellow blog friends.  Emily has already helped me simplify my life with a couple mini projects this summer: taking a car load to Goodwill and paring my kitchen down to the essentials. I plan to eventually get to every room, but that will come in time.  I still use my Google Calendar but enjoy writing down my tasks, goals and bucket list items.  It fits perfectly into my purse, doesn't take up too much room on my desk, yet is big enough to write in my "normal handwriting" size.  Plus a fun cover design is always motivating!

I used to have an address book and have no idea what happened to it once I started adding all of my contact's addresses into my iPhone five or six years ago.  Overtime, I noticed with each new iPhone and Google/Facebook sync, I would have multiple entries for the same contact, sometimes only keeping their former address.  It was driving me nuts, so when I purchased the Simplified Planner, I also added this Address Book to my cart and am so happy I went back to the old way of doing things in this digital world.

Crate and Barrel Windham Writing Desk, Chair, Cushion and Bookcase (purchased Summer 2008; discontinued)
Orchid (purchased in 2012; linked similar)
Black and White Frame (TJ Maxx)

September 6, 2016

Labor Day Weekend Recap

It's hard to believe Labor Day has come and gone and we're just about one week into September!

Friday evening, Mike's brother and his girlfriend stopped by to visit on their way to Mike's parents. We grabbed dinner at a local restaurant downtown and watched the Yankees play. It was fun visiting with them and we already can't wait for them to come back in December! (I realized after the fact that we didn't take any pictures- sorry!)

Saturday, I had 15 miles on my marathon training plan and I knocked them out in 2:24:25 // 9:37 average pace. This was my longest run since my last marathon in 2014! After my run, I went to a local coffee shop (and Grain, for locals) and ordered the spinach, feta and tomato quiche with an espresso before heading to downtown Westfield for Labor Day weekend shopping at Williams-Sonoma.

When I got home, I made this Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore with Spaghetti recipe from Southern Living for dinner. It was so good and so easy. I think we will definitely be making this more often.

Sunday afternoon we went to my boss' house for a cookout he hosted and Monday we did absolutely nothing- it was wonderful!

How did you spend your Labor Day weekend?