change

The year of change

7:00:00 AM


Every year my family watches Ryan Seacrest ring in the New Year with multiple musical acts, and every year has a theme. This year they kept calling 2015 "The Year of Change", while I can only speak for myself, I felt like this was 100% true. There isn't one particular thing that I achieved, I can think of a list of things that changed. And who doesn't like a holiday themed list anyway?


1. I moved universities, and cities. 2015 brought in a big move for myself. After struggling in my last university, I was finally able to leave and I couldn't wait to get out. I'm still exploring this new surrounding, but I really enjoy the classes much better here and the people this term are much friendlier as well.

2.I cut back on sugar. While you mostly see the posts about me baking sweet treats, I have made a massive effort to not eat sugar as much. I feel so much better without it, but I won't pass up the occasionally sweet treat or chai tea that comes my way.

3. I got a roommate. This is a big change for me as I didn't have a roommate last semester and now I'm learning how to live in really close proximity with someone else. Someone not even from this country. (more on that here.) The whole language barrier is still a thing, and sometimes it's a struggle not to lash out in frustration.

4. I declared my major and minor. It's so nice that it's official now. I was always working toward a Communications degree with a creative writing minor, but now it's real and I've got all the classes I need to take in a list.

5. Work. While I've just started my third year of University, I'm starting to look and apply for internships, which means the job that I once loved is becoming more of a "well if I don't get this internship.." type of thing. It's changed a lot, now that most of my work friends are off to college and just isn't that enjoyable anymore.

This year has been good when I look back at it. There are so many things that I look forward to in the upcoming year and I can't wait to share them all with you! Thank you so much for reading, and leaving comments. I really love reading them!

What things have changed the most for you? I hope you're having a great week!

Baking

The Legend of the Berlin Pretzel Cookies

9:00:00 AM


If you haven't noticed, my second semester away from home has come to an end, giving me more time to help bake which is something I love to do. These cookies, that I've titled this post after, have been passed down through generations and this season it was my turn to learn it. Along with traditions, there are usually stories told with them. For these cookies, the legend is...there has to be sun or they just will not work! 
This year, my mom had previously made a batch and the days forecast for our baking day? Rain. 
Pretzel Cookie
Here's What You'll Need:
2 hard boiled egg yolks-mashed
3 raw egg yolks
2 sticks butter (unsalted, room temp)
1 and 1/2 cups powder sugar
2 and 1/2 cups flour
Sprinkles
3 bowls (one large and two small)
(Christmas cheer and a sunny personality!)

Here's What you Need to Do:
To prep:
Have two small bowls, one with the egg whites, and one with the sugar and sprinkle mixture ready to go! 
1. Combine flour and powdered sugar with egg yolks and butter in large bowl.
Mixture
2. Add raw egg yolks and mix with hands until ball forms. This gets messy!
kneading
3. Roll small chunks into balls (about the size of a walnut and roll into strips. 
Dough
4. Criss-cross one side over the other. (this is called a pretzel but it looks more like an awareness ribbon if that helps your forming.) 
5.  Brush egg-white glaze over pretzel cookie and dip into sugar. (repeat as you bake)
It's easier to bake each set one by one, instead of two pans at a time. You're also meant to wait until the pan cools off as they're very finicky (it's not only the sun that has to be right about them). 
Luckily for us, the legend didn't hold out to be true for this batch and they turned out great! Maybe it really was our sunny personalities and just the feeling of Christmas cheer that made them turn out so well! 
Sprinkles

I hope you're brave enough to try these cookies, after all sometimes it works and sometimes it just doesn't! I think it's fun just to say "it has to be sunny". It makes them even more special, and I'm glad I got to learn how to make them! ( I posted this photo on instagram if you missed it!) 
Did you try any new recipes this holiday season? Or even this year? Did you have any major flops or really great ones? Let me know in the comments!
See you next time! (Tomorrow is Officially the real Christmas! I hope you all have a GREAT holiday!! :) )
xx Kenzie













Baking

Sweet Holiday Treats

10:00:00 AM

Every holiday season seems to be centered around some main elements, and having sweet treats around is one of them. While the official title of this recipe in the cookbook is "Christmas Toffee Bars", and traditionally made in my household during the holiday season, you can really choose to make these at anytime of the year. My great-aunt gave us this recipe, and there's something special about reading a recipe in the handwriting of someone so loved years after they've passed on.

Toffee Recipe

Here's What You'll Need:

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolates (I used Dove milk chocolate)
Milk Chocolate

Christmas themed sprinkles or nuts (optional)
Jellyroll pan or cookie sheet (10x15)


Here's What you do:
1. Cream together the butter and brown sugar; beat in egg yolk
2. Add the flour, salt, vanilla and mix together. 
Mixture

3. Spread the mixture into the sheet
4. Make sure mixture is evenly spread, otherwise it doesn't bake through well. 
5. Bake at 350*F, for about 13-15 minutes until very lightly browned. 
6. While the bars have about 1-2 minutes left, melt the chocolates and spread over immediately or else it won't melt
Toffee Recipe

7. Sprinkle on sprinkles and nuts
8. Cut squares when warm 
9. Enjoy!
Christmas Toffee

I hope you're all in the holiday spirit now and it's also essential to listen to holiday music in the background or have a cheesy Christmas film!
What are your favorite holiday treats? Do you make anything similar to these? 
Make sure to leave comments, I love reading them! 
Thanks for reading, see you next time! 
x Kenzie


bath

Christmas WishList

10:00:00 AM

Every year I get asked to make my parents a Christmas list, and every year I find it more and more difficult to conjure one up. As I've gotten older, there isn't much that I desperately want or need, I mean I could put a trip to Europe or some tropical destination on there but I have a feeling they would never go for that. I feel really lucky not to need so much for Christmas, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun to online shop and eventually whip up a list anyway! That's what this post is about. My Christmas wishlist. Maybe we have a few of the same things!

Christmas 2015


I like to split my lists into categories. Firstly there are Clothes. 

Holiday fashion

Though mostly filled with sweaters and cardigans at this time of year, it's always nice to get a giftcard to my favorite shops as well. Those include H&M, Forever 21, Target and Kohl's. Recently I stumbled upon this shop called Spoiled Rotton, and it's online, it has all the above clothing. How cute! I love watermelon, I think throwing on a dress in the summer would be perfect and you can never have enough summer dresses! As well as the pullovers, never can have enough of those in the cold Wisconsin winter months.
Here are the links:
 (Watermelon dress) (Elephant Sweater)
(Purple sweater)  (Black and White Sweater)

The second category I like to put in is Scents.
 I love changing smells throughout the seasons. This year, I recently purchased the Cup of Warmth from Bath and Body Works. It smells amazing, and makes me want to crawl into a warm blanket with a cup of tea or hot chocolate. A lot of my favorite scents come in the car type since I've got a bunch of candles already!

Scents

The fourth category for me is Bath. 
 You all know, if you've been reading my blog for awhile that I love LUSH. I love taking a nice warm bath after work or when the weather is cold and relaxing with some bath bombs. Lush has their christmas ones out. Though many of those are on my list, I also enjoy my all time favorites (that's Fizzbanger, Butterball, and Blackberry). 

As far as other things on my list, I really don't have anymore ideas. I don't expect any of this stuff to actually end up in my stockings or under the tree but it's fun  to pick and choose. 
There are also decorative pillows like these that would look nice in my dorm room! 
Light gray pillowDecorativeHoliday Pillow
(these come from Target, Kohls and Shopko!)

In all honesty, I think I spent more time on the website of WorldMarket looking for stocking stuffers (because they have food from all over the world) than I did anything else. I mean, dark chocolate? Yes please. Even though I'm cutting back sugar and trying to eat healthy they still had those options for me too! 
I really enjoy giving gifts much more than I enjoy receiving them. I like making the gift or buying it off the shelf and wrapping it and handing it off to the person. I love Christmas so much. I can't wait to continue on celebrating all month long! 
What kind of things are you asking for for Christmas? Anything that you're excited to give away? 
I hope you've all done all your shopping! 
x :) 

breakfast

Holiday Brunching

1:53:00 PM


While my first semester of my junior year of college appears in the horizon, I broke out from under the pile of essays and projects that are all due at various times throughout this week and decided to go Christmas shopping.
 There is just something nice about shopping for someone and watching them wonder what it is you could have gotten them! I love it. The day was beautiful, (a bit out of the ordinary for December). The sun was shining, and there still hasn't been snow. It's fantastic. I bought so many gifts, my wallet has never felt thinner.

Wrapping Paper
I definitely was shopping on a budget, and thought I would share a few tips and tricks with you guys! 
  1. DIY gifts are great. If you can find something around your house, or something for under $10 at the craft store, then you are on it. I did something simple last year for Christmas, and being away from home I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't get to put something together. But I have!
  2. Dollar sections should be your first stop. I had to walk past a whole slew of really great looking gifts on shelves, until I came to the dollar section in my local Target. They're holiday themed, and a lot of the things can be add-ons for those co-workers or friends or even family members
  3. Remind yourself. While in Target, there were also small children in the dollar section who were grabbing gifts they wanted to play with. The mother spoke up saying "We're buying for others, not ourselves." I thought this was a good reminder, and I walked away from the nice stickers. 
  4. Bring a friend. If you're as indecisive as I am, it's probably a really good idea to bring a pal that can give you some good ideas for gifts and remind you what you have yet to shop for and what you already have. 
I finished up my shopping, feeling a bit hungry and went to one of my absolute favorite restaurants with my friend for brunch. Who doesn't want made-from-scratch waffles? The meal started out with a chai tea for myself, and a cup of hot chocolate for her, that seemed to almost be taking breaths. 
Chai LatteWaffles and Bacon
The last time I ate at this particular shop, I ordered way more than I needed, so I kept it at one waffle and 3 slices of bacon. It was delicious, and a perfect ending to a day out in the beautiful weather.
When I got back to my dorm room, I was so excited to start wrapping my Christmas gifts that I bought. I bought the gold wrapping paper from the dollar store, and it's lovely! I have more wrapping paper than presents, but that's alright. I got really into it, listening to holiday music and didn't even mind the fact that I had not even 2 minutes in, gotten a paper-cut.  
Christmas basket

I'm looking at all of the gifts that sit in bags on the floor of my dorm and excitement starts to build within me. I can't wait to see everything under the tree, relax with a cup of tea or dark hot chocolate when I get home, and be done writing these essays! I should get back to that. 
If your exams are coming up, good luck! I hope you do well! I have two next week Thursday then I'm free! 
 Have you done all of your Christmas shopping? Written any cards? (those are all done too!) I hope you're getting excited!  
 See you next time! 
 xx
Kenzie





Christmas

Christmas Room Decor

9:30:00 AM


This is the first year I'm away from home for a Christmas holiday, which means it's the first year I get to decorate my very own small space! Like many of you, I love this time of year. Maybe it's the excitement of the upcoming month-long break from classes and spending time watching Christmas films in the living room with my mom and baking Christmas cookies, but decorating is always the number one step in getting into the holiday mood.


The dormitory I'm living in this year doesn't allow for very much space to put things. When I thought of what I wanted to bring back to the room to decorate with, I knew I had to keep it small and that I'd be taking most of it down anyway three weeks after Thanksgiving when I went home for Christmas break! Here are some of what I used to make my dorm room more homey and cozy for the holidays! 
When a person walks into my room, this is one of the first things to greet them. Who doesn't love cute holiday themed owls? My mom surprised me with this when I was home for Thanksgiving and I was so glad to put it out in my room! While putting this blog post together, I thought I would offer up some tips for those who are looking to decorate in their own small spaces! 

1. Use Command Hanging Strips: These came in really handy when I went about hanging my snowman who waves people in and my dream catcher that hangs on the wall beside my bed. 
 I also used command hanging strips to hang the two stockings above my futon!





2. Small Details are better than no details. Even though I was really limited on space, I still made room for my little wooden Santa and my stuffed snowman to sit upon my futon. Once these guys were out, I started feeling a bit more festive. The red blanket was just a bonus, that's always out! And using small decorations really helps you make use of otherwise plan, boring walls or shelves!

3. Every room needs a little sparkle. It's Christmastime, and without any ornaments or ribbons, my room still needed a little sparkle, something aside from everything else that made me smile. That's where this little light-up snowman came from! It's from Target, and my mom gave it to me as a little present! His little hat and scarf are so cute! 
4.Where's the tree? Christmas cannot be Christmas without a tree right? You can always check with your parents if you have a small tree somewhere in a bin like mine had, and they actually had two. I made use of one of them and it sits in the middle of our desks. It hasn't got any ornaments on it, but I think it looks great the way it is. 

Even though there might not be as many decorations in my room as at home, these all make me feel like I'm actually in the Christmas spirit and soon enough I will be lounging around at home drinking my hot chocolate in front of the fireplace and watching countless cheesy Christmas films, snacking on delicious Christmas goodies for an entire month. I cannot wait. 

I hope you all are having a great time counting down to Christmas! What do you do to decorate your places? What is your favorite holiday decoration? Any favorite ornaments on the tree?
 See you next time and thanks for reading! xx Kenzie














Baking

Christmas Baking

8:00:00 AM


It's December, and that means many things. Firstly it means that exams are coming up and I have been busy rustling around in my pile of homework and keeping up with due dates. All while munching on some Christmas cookies. Recently, you read about how I spent Thanksgiving day, but I had five days off. So what else did I do? I'll give you one guess. 
Figured it out? 
I was baking. A lot. 
My grandma and I have our traditional baking time where we usually make truffles. I wrote a blog post about those last year and you can read them here. This year, we went all out on Christmas baking. 
Molasses
This year we started off with sugar cookie cut-outs. Even though I won't be home to decorate the cookies like I have in the past, I was still able to help cut the cookies into different shapes.
DoughCookie Cut Outs
The dough was in a constant rotation of the photo on the left to the photo on the right side. There may have been a few stray sugar cookie dough bits that popped into my mouth as well. Whoops! What can you do? 
Sallys Baking Addiction
After baking the sugar cookies, my grandmother helped me make these delicious turtle cookies that I was going to give to my mom (turtle is her favorite). The dough tasted amazing and I was so excited to try these cookies out and see what my moms reaction would be to the "secret" cookies! If you'd like the recipe for these, it's over on Sally's Blog. They're amazing and you should really try them!
Turtle Cookie
While waiting for the turtle cookie dough to chill in the fridge, we quickly whipped up a double batch of my favorite cookies. Molasses. I made them awhile ago, though never blogged any photos of them. But here they are! 
Winter Cookie
They taste amazing as well. 
My mom stopped over to help us with the truffles. It went a lot faster with three people, which was really fun and actually even better since we got to enjoy them even sooner! 
After making a batch of sugar cookies, truffles, and molasses, it was time to drizzle the caramel onto the turtle cookies for the final touch. 
Turtle Cookies

Caramel

This feels like Christmas. I am even more excited to bake even more goodies after exams when I come home for a little over a month and can relax.
I hope you all are getting excited for Christmas as well!!
What is your favorite thing to bake?
Make sure to leave a comment! 
x
kenzie






Food

Feasting

9:00:00 AM


After a busy two weeks of constant projects, turning in papers and bibliographies and turning my giant to do list into a crumpled piece of paper in my garbage bin, it was time to go home. Breaks from school are always nice, and this time it wasn't just a weekend long trip, where essentially I'm only home for Saturday. Being home for more than one day feels amazing.
If you're not too familiar with Thanksgiving, it's a holiday celebrated at the end of November here in the states, and a bit earlier if you live in Canada. It's when the pilgrims first landed here and had their first harvest feast. There is tons of food to go around on this day and you feel extremely full for the next three days. While everyone goes about their daily lives away from one another, it's nice to come around the table for one big meal, and if you're lucky enough to have two sides of your family living in the same town, you get two big meals. Though you're full for the next three days.

Owls

For me, the typical Thanksgiving day is started with a light breakfast, leisurely watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (that's held in New York City), and finally getting dressed and heading to the first house for lunch. 
There are always nice snacks set out, and I enjoyed munching on pears with strawberry dip and red grapes, as well as caramel corn. We spent some time catching up before everyone else arrived and we got ready to eat the main meal. In many homes, the staple dishes are always different. Also, to make it easier on the hosts each family brings a different dish, this year, for the first meal, my mom made Green Bean Casserole (and I helped). For my family, there is always Turkey, Stuffing, Green Bean Casserole, Squash, and Potatoes. This year, for the first meal, there were three different types of stuffing

Stuffing
3 types of Stuffing! 
USA Thanksgiving
Top to botom: Broccoli Salad, Green Bean Casserole, and squash
 It seems like it would be very difficult to choose what to eat, but really if you take small amounts of everything, you can take one of everything! My favorite is usually the squash, and I really enjoyed the broccoli salad! 
Thanksgiving
After the meal, and stuffing our bellies with the main course, we all waited a bit just chatting around the table and snacking on these delicious gingerbread finger shaped cookies that my uncle and cousin made! Everyone had one in the spot where they were to be seated. They were a delicious and different dessert. Another staple around the table at Thanksgiving is also pumpkin pie, my mom and I had a bite of some, but I had already eaten my cookie and wasn't very hungry! 
Placemats
We all trudged downstairs to watch some football and rest. I did feel a bit like this dog to be honest. Wish I would have been able to take a nap as well! 
Dog Sleeping
With a two hour intermission between meals, we stopped at home for a bit of a rest and relaxation before heading off to our dinner. Luckily, we didn't have to eat right away when we got there and were able to have a drink and chat with everyone as they got the food ready. The turkey was huge! The food was delicious as always. Another staple in a traditional meal in my family is gravy and bread. My mom made this delicious salad, having eaten salad everyday at school I was very eager to be getting it into my tummy as well as many other foods! 

USAPecan Pie
Aside from the traditional Pumpkin Pie, there is always Pecan and Apple Pie at the second home we go to. I had a thin slice of Pumpkin since I really didn't have any at the last house and a thin slice of Pecan which is my favorite! 

Food
There was also corn and sweet potato as well. I never knew I liked sweet potato before and now I know that I really love it! I even had sweet potato fries when we went out for a fish fry on Friday night! 
Thanksgiving

Though Thanksgiving is a day centered around food, it's also really important to reflect about the people and things in your life that you're thankful for. For me, I'm thankful for all of you, that this semester is almost over, that I had no classes on Tuesday and got to go home an entire day early and that everyone that I know is healthy. Next up is Christmas! Can you believe it? 

I hope you all have a great week! What is your favorite dish (whether it's Thanksgiving or not!) If you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, what would your perfect meal be? Can't wait to hear from you in the comments! 
xx Kenzie

 


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