Christmas: 5 top 5’s

With Christmas a week away, you’ve got just 7 days to cram in all the Yuletide festivities that you can. To make it a bit easier, here are my holiday top 5’s for the year.

Movies to watch:

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After we’ve stuffed our faces with glorious holiday eats, we’re ready to veg out with a holiday flick. Here are 5 films to watch while the food’s digesting:

  1. A Charlie Brown Christmas via Redbox
  2. Elf: ABC Family, Friday, Dec. 19 at 8:00 p.m.
  3. Home Alone ABC Family, Sunday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
  4. The Santa Clause ABC Family, Monday, Dec. 22 at 8:30 p.m.
  5. A Christmas Story TBS, Wednesday, Dec. 24 8:00 p.m.

Songs to sing:

Christmas tunes: you’re almost sick of them, but because you only have one week left of them, you’ll endure. Here are 5 to make your ear drums ba-rump-a-bum-bum:

  1. “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus” by Jackson 5
  2. “Hallelujah Christmas” by Cloverton
  3. “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by Casting Crowns
  4. “Silent Night” by Selah
  5. “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee

Excuses to eat chocolate:

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Yes, you may buy way too much post-Christmas chocolate in one week at 98% off, but let’s live in the here and now for a while. Tantalize your taste-buds with these 5 chocolate treats:

  1. Peppermint bark
  2. Chocolate-dipped pretzels
  3. Boxed chocolate, a classic
  4. Chocolate gingerbread cookies
  5. Chocolate-dipped peppermint marshmallows

Photos: Food.com | Divas Can Cook | Godiva | Wanna Come with Me? | Bright Eyed Baker

Drinks to have:

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Warm your heart and your pipes with some toasty holiday drinks. Or go for the cooler number one and three options. Either way, your palate will be praising Christmas flavors:

  1. Milk, egg or coconut nog or whatever kind of nog you’re into
  2. Peppermint white chocolate hot cocoa
  3. Cranberry sparkler
  4. Christmas tea
  5. Spiced Christmas coffee

Photos: Kitchen Table Friends | Will Cook for Smiles | Martha Stewart | Taste of Home | Brewed Daily

Ways to deck yourself out:

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Though I don’t suggest wearing all of the following at the same time, here are some ways you can show your holiday cheer without saying a word:

  1. Pop culture ugly sweater
  2. Reindeer antler ring
  3. Mariah Carey-style elbow-high Christmas gloves, because why not?
  4. Festive fingernails
  5. A little bit of sparkle

Photos: Ugly Christmas Sweater | Authfashion | PommeRoseDecor | Sarah Lou Nails | Macy’s 

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Famous rose apple pie

Yesterday my homemade rose apple pie kicked off USA Today’s #yourbake 12 Days of Baked Goods series: usat.ly/1COf3CN. Honestly, I can’t say I don’t deserve it because this was the best pie I’ve ever made! The heavenly, crumbly crust was baked to perfection and the oozy sugar filling was at the perfect place on the sweetness scale. And the rose apples tasted just as amazing as they looked.

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I transcribed a European recipe and combined it with a recipe from my Pinterest for this scrumptious dessert.

First things first, you don’t want a crumbly hot mess to deal with later, so grease the pan!! After its been greased or buttered or whatever your method of choice, I give you my blessing to flatten the dough into the round pie pan (I used a 9″). The secret ingredient here is the lemon juice. It livens up the crust flavor and leaves a pleasant sweet and tangy aftertaste.

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Now that your dough’s flattened, stretched and pinched to perfection—or as close as you can get, like me—you can stop obsessing over getting it smooth and place it out of sight, out of mind in the fridge for a while.

Time to turn up the heat. After mixing the filling until you achieve a thick syrup consistency, get your green thumb on and grow some roses. But, please, I beg you, learn from my mistake and do not skin the apples. I learned the hard way that it only doubles your work. Instead, use an apple peeler but lower the skinning blade. Then, drop your peels into boiling water.

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Boil your peels just long enough that you can bend them without breaking. Then, channel your inner baking artiste and roll the peels into cones, layering until you get something that resembles a rose. Arrange your glorious roses on on top of the crust and filling.

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Bake for about 25 minutes or until the crust edges turn golden, then remove from oven, sprinkle on some powdered sugar, snap a photo and enjoy your delectable creation.

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Ingredients:

Crust:

1/2 cup butter
5/8 cup powdered sugar (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp sugar
1/3 of a lemon’s juice
1 egg
Just over 1/2 cup of flour

Filling:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp butter
6 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 bag of apples (I used Fuji)

Instructions:

Crust:

  • Beat soft butter with powdered sugar, vanilla, sugar, and lemon juice. Add egg. Add flour gradually to make a soft dough.
  • Dust a 9 or 9.5 inch greased baking pan with flour. Spread the dough evenly in it, pinching the sides up to the pan edges. Place in refrigerator.
Filling:
  • In medium mixing bowl, mix granulated sugar, flour, and cinnamon. In separate small mixing bowl, mix melted butter, milk, and vanilla. Stir both mixtures together.
  • With an apple peeler, slice apples into long strips without removing the skin
  • Roll apple peels into roses (if apple is too crisp to bend, boil your apple slices until they are soft enough to roll into roses)
  • Remove dough from fridge and pour filling on top, then arrange rolled-up apple roses close together
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until golden on crust edges
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Eat warm or chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

15 Gift Ideas

 Gift guide 2014-01

It’s that time of year. The merry, magical, wondrous time that translates to polar vortex, kleenex shortage and gift expenses. It also means seasonal flavors at Starbucks, which every basic can rejoice over. Unfortunately, my friend circle is not composed solely of people whom I can give a Starbucks gift card to rock their year. So, here are 15 awesome items I’ve found for the more complex giftees, or gifts you can splurge on for a treat-yo-self present.

1. A Miniature Film Projector for Your Instagrams

First of all, this gift is mini which already makes it adorbs. I’m pinching this projector’s figurative cheeks right now. Second, it’s a unique way to keep and view your treasured Instagrams with a nostalgic flair. Plus, this projector is something both complex and basic friends would appreciate.

2. Constellation mug

This is an awesome hot, cold ceramic mug. It’s unique and appeals to people who appreciate Greek mythology or even people who just enjoy the stars, like myself. The only downside is that it’s not dishwasher safe, but worth it for the cool effect.

3. Why You’re so Awesome

Not only is this book fun to get, it’s fun to give! You get to have a jolly good time filling out the blanks and your book receiver gets a completely personalized account attesting to their awesomeness. Just make sure to use your most legible handwriting while completing phrases like, “I wish I were as awesome as you at___” and “If you were an animal you’d be___” and “People seem to be impressed by your awesome___”

4. Shower curtain statement piece

I challenge you to scroll through Society6’s shower curtains and not find one you like. I’m 99% sure it’s impossible. From pop culture references to incredible graphic design, these shower curtains will make you feel like you need a new, more awesome one. Personally, the curtain pictured above speaks to me. I am in love with the design, and let’s be real, black, white and aqua are classy colors for a bathroom.

5. Lux shower head

While an awesome shower curtain is the perfect statement piece, behind the curtain is where the magic happens. Why not feel like a rainforest princess while showering? This shower head in particular even has adjustable colors of light. I know I’d appreciate receiving this bathroom luxury for Christmas!

6. Parrot Flower Power

For all those murderers of plants lacking a green thumb, this smartphone accessory is your new savior. The smart twig alerts you of your greenery’s needs from more fertilizer to a warmer location. It kind of reminds me of the fake baby assignment in Home Ec, but with an actual living object.

7. 642 Things to Draw

Creative challenges and prompts are always winning gifts. If your gift receiver is an amazing artist, this will become an inspiring sketch book to flip through. If they’re a crappy artist, it will become a humorous coffee table book. Side note: if your giftee doesn’t doodle, there are also “104 Things to Photograph” and “642 Things to Write About.”

8. French Macaron kit

The ultimate baking triumph in life is perfecting the French macaron. I’ve tried and produced only sad, sugary chips. This kit makes the macaron feat a bit more attainable. But here’s the real bonus: if you buy this for someone, they’re kind of obliged to let you taste their glorious desert delicacies. Win-win!

9. Stylish apron

While tinkering in the kitchen, why not do it in style? Plus, this will assure the longevity of stylish clothes beneath the apron. I will say, for the sake of functionality I’m not a fan of white aprons, but this one is so freakin’ cute that I can forgo that rule.

10. Magnetic hourglass

While I can’t speak to the accuracy of timekeeping this hourglass (or roughly a minute-glass), I can attest to its out-of-the-ordinary appeal. Hourglasses are already timeless relics—see what I did there?—and adding a modern flair just makes this magnetic hourglass even more of a keeper. Plus, this is a little more impressive than your average coffee table photo book.

11. Woodland playing cards

Whether it’s Rummy, Poker or Slap Jack, these aesthetically pleasing playing cards will be more fun than your average deck. Plus, you can seize the opportunity to sneak good design into a friend’s life. Everyone should own a deck of cards, so let it be one that impresses guests as they deal out hands.

12. Earthy jewelry

There’s something appealing about the look of natural gems. It’s cool to know that what you’re wearing is raw uniqueness straight from Mother Nature herself. I mean, there are some man-made elements at play here but geode necklaces and druzy rings are pretty close to their earthy roots.

13. Yuletide sweater 

Ugly or cute, a Yuletide sweater is simply a Christmas staple. There are awesome sweaters with pop culture references to classics like “Elf” and “Rudolph” or you can just go straight gaudy with your Christmas getup. Plus, your loved one will be able to take awesome #sweatersunday selfies.

14. Hand-warming flashlight, phone charger

The incredibly useful aluminum cylinder can warm your frosty fingers, keep you from receiving the panic-inducing 20% battery message and light your way. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love this pocket-sized miracle.

15. Unique stationary

Letter writing is becoming a lost art, but there’s something special about receiving a note in your mailbox that texting can’t duplicate. Knowing someone took time to hand-write a message, plan out a few days ahead of time to send it and spend a couple cents on postage all for you, that’s real. So, for all your old-soul friends, why not provide the tools for sending letters? Helpful tip: buy a book of stamps to gift with the stationary.


Hopefully this list inspired your inner gifter genius, or at least made present-shopping slightly simpler. Let me know what items you’ll be gifting this year!