Resolutions 2014

New year, new me. Or at least that’s what I tell myself every January. Last year, I made a ton of changes from making new friends and letting old relationships go, to losing 25 pounds and running 365 miles in 2013. (Yes, I completed it! Woot!) I ran four 5Ks, worked harder on my blog than I have in the past, and spent months working on a 50th anniversary book for my grandparents. I’ve found myself in the last year and I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support system that I have of friends and family. There are so many new and exciting things on the horizon and I can’t wait to make 2014 an even better year than 2013.

As for resolutions, I’m still figuring that out, but this is what I have so far:

Get Fit
No, not just lose weight. I mean continuing my lifestyle change from last year, but committing to the gym more, eating better all the time, and meal planning for the week.

Design My Butt Off
Like the holiday card I mailed this year to the greeting cards I have designed, I really want to expand that this year. Anything from Save-The-Dates and baby announcements to greeting cards.

Patience
A big one for me. I want to be more understanding of others this year. Life has thrown a lot of curve balls at me this year, and I need patience to get me through it. I’m not sure if that means rereading The Secret or journaling again, but  either way, I want to be less stressed out and I think this is the key.

Merry Christmas

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I’m not quite sure why, but at six o’clock this morning, I was wide awake. Apparently my mind knew that it was christmas. So here I am, before the sun is even up, blogging because I can’t go to bed.

I can’t even snoop on the gifts because the living room has been wrapping papered shut. So sad.

So happy early Christmas, everyone! (Ps, that wreath picture is of the one I made this year. Leopard print, yay!)

Peppermint Fudge

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Are you in candy cane overload yet?

No? That’s good, because I’ve got a recipe for you for a last minute gift. Peppermint fudge. I know what you’re thinking. Fudge? Come on, let’s be more creative than that. Well, I’ve never made fudge before, so this was an experiment all on its own. So I scoured the Internet until I found something that seemed easy enough that I could tweak to fit my needs. 

Then I went peppermint crazy. And I got some pretty sweet chocolate goodness. All with just a simple double boiler (a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water) and some chocolate to melt. Yum!

Gather:

1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 2/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 candy cane, crushed into small pieces for topping

Line an 8×8 inch pan with a piece of wax paper.

In a double boiler, melt butter. Then add chocolate chips, condensed milk, and salt. Stir until mixture is smooth, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the vanilla and peppermint extracts and stir until combined.

Remove bowl from heat and pour into prepared pan. Careful, the bowl will be hot. Use a rubber spatula to evenly spread the fudge to the edges and smooth the top. Sprinkle crushed candy cane pieces over the top.
Refrigerate the fudge for about 2 hours or until firm enough to cut. Remove from pan. Using a heated knife (run under hot water and dry), cut fudge into pieces. Refrigerate.

Holiday Postcard – Hide Your Cookies

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I got a little silly the other day with everything seasonal. And those of you who have checked your mail lately might have noticed a pretty interesting postcard come through, this is the back story. (My grandfather actually just thought it was an ad from a local business. Turns out I’m that good.)

Let me back up. I’ve always been one for Christmas. I’m the one who encourages people to those Ugly Sweater Parties and to sew on more tinsel and ribbon. I decorate wreaths with my friends, getting hot glue gun burns along the way. I even make peppermint cookies, hot cocoa, fudge, cake, candies, and martinis – because, isn’t that the way it should be?

So I begged my my photographer friend, Andy from Perfect Perceptions, to take my picture for my holiday card this year that I would be designing. When he showed up, I don’t think he knew what he was getting himself into, because what he saw was this: a 26-year-old holding a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie the size of her face and sporting a Santa hat, more than enough ornaments to cover a tree, and the Elf soundtrack on the counter sitting and waiting to be played.

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“So what’s the theme?” was the response – with smirk – that I got.

“Christmas!!”

Of course, my idea of Christmas might seem a bit tacky, but I don’t care. So I turned this shoot into a Christmas Wonderland. (At one point I shredded up cotton balls to make snow. Note: they do not blow like snow when you huff and puff at them in your hand. Makes for a horrible picture.)

However, I did end up with a bunch of great pictures. (Which he fabulously edited for me!) And then I designed one of my most favorite cards to date! So silly, but so fun! Couldn’t have been happier with how the pictures came out!

Let’s just say that among the comments I got back were: “You’re a brave soul to send those into the mail.” “I can’t believe you did that.” and “That’s the best thing I’ve ever seen!”

Hehe. Successful Roni designed postcard! On to my other holiday endeavors!

Voila! My card (yes, it says “Hide Your Cookies,” on it.):

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Holiday Shopping: How I Try To Shop For Others and Fail

Can we talk about, for a minute, how hard it is to shop for other people come Christmas time? Every time I go into a store, all I can find are things that I want. A nice bracelet, a scarf that I want that looks like every other one I own, and a gadget that I’d only buy if I won the lottery. Then I remember the real reason I came into the store, to shop for my friends and family.

Oh yeah….

AlexAni

That’s exactly how I stumbled upon Rue La La’s deal today – half off Alex and Ani bracelets! I’ve been watching these forever but haven’t had the heart to buy even one. Mostly it’s because to acquire that full bangled look, I’d have to shell out about $300, minimum. But half off?? Half off? That’s crazy!

Anyone need some last minute shopping gifts, head to Rue La La today. You only pay shipping once for 30 days and most items right now will make it to your house by Christmas if you order now.

Good luck!! I’m going to go back to trying to shop for other people and ignore the things that I want for myself….

Click here to see today’s deal: http://tinyurl.com/npotzk9 

No Monkeying Around: Recipe

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Spent a fabulous Saturday cooking and crafting yesterday with two of my favorites. When we get together, we’re always looking for something to do in the kitchen. And since my oven is working again (!) we decided we had to bake something. That’s when the term “monkey bread” came up.

I have a confession to make. I’ve never made Monkey Bread before. I feel like it’s a New England thing or New Hampshire thing or something, but all of my friends around here know what it is and know how to make it. I did not grow up eating Monkey Bread, so it’s been one of those things that I’ve always wondered about.

What is it? Basically it’s cinnamon and sugar doughy baked goodness. So not good for you. That, however, did not stop us.

Want to make your own? Follow this:

Gather:
1 can of 16.3 oz PIllsbury Grands Buttermilk Biscuits
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of brown sugar
6 tablespoons of melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease or butter a glass baking dish. In a large bowl, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Separate biscuits and cut into quarters. Place in the cinnamon-sugar bowl. Mix until biscuits are completely covered. Place into baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and melted butter. Pour over biscuits.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and no longer doughy in the center. Let cool for 10 minutes. Pull apart and serve.

You’ll see that the biscuits fall apart all delicious and flaky when you eat them:

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Enjoy!

Help: Finding My 2013 Holiday Outfit

I’m at a standstill. I don’t know what to wear for my holiday party. It’s in a week and I’ve gone through about 10 different outfits. I already thought about renting a dress from Rent the Runway, then thought better of it. I shopped on Black Friday and found nothing. I’ve even scoured Pinterest for inspiration. So I’m asking you, friends. What should I wear?

To give you an idea of what I’m looking for, this is a work party. So it has to be classy, but it can totally be fun. My office is awesome, fairly laid back, and totally female-driven. That means looking my best is a must. As someone who typically dresses other people (yay Loft!), when it comes to myself, I’m a bit stuck on what I should do.

The ladies at Loft created a few outfits for me to test out. So I’m curious what your thoughts are. These are three totally different looks, but all holiday party appropriate. Mostly, it’s talking, snacking on apps, drinking a few fizzy cocktails, and a bit of dancing. So I need to be comfortable, but not too casual.

These are the three we came up with (click the images to see the Polyvore Sets):

Redtastic (as I’m calling it)
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Black & Gold Luxe
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Winter White Wonderland
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My party is Dec. 13, so send in your votes. I’m hoping to decide soon and would love input!

** Also, heads up that there will be a Style Event at the Newington Loft on Thursday, Dec. 12, the day before my party for 25% off full-priced items! Sweet deals on these New Arrivals and get styled by the girls! Just tell them your event. Open a card and get another 15% off all of the total after savings, too! Tell them Roni sent you!**